Mumbai – Kabul air-freight corridor inaugurated; First cargo flight lands at Mumbai Airport

Mumbai, Dec,28:  A historic moment was created at the Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA), yesterday when an aircraft carrying perishables arrived in Mumbai from Kabul, Afghanistan. This opened up a dedicated air freight corridor between the two cities which was planned during the meeting of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi and President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani in Kabul in September 2016. An initiative implemented with the joint efforts of the Vice-President of Afghanistan, Mr. Danish Sarwar and Governor of Maharashtra, Mr. Chennamanneni Vidyasagar Rao, this connectivity, established through the Air-Freight corridor, will provide the land-locked Afghanistan greater access to markets in Maharashtra. Additionally, it will allow Afghan businessmen to leverage the economic growth, enhance trade networks and offer Afghan farmers direct access to the markets in western India for their perishable goods.

This historical event was graced by the Principal Secretary – Govt. of Maharashtra, Diplomats from the office of Governor of Maharashtra and esteemed officials of the Consulate General of Afghanistan. The honorable dignitaries along with officials of Mumbai International Airport welcomed the inaugural flight routed Kabul-Mumbai-Kabul which carried on the inbound 40 tons of fresh apples and on the outbound 20 tons of bananas along with 20 tons of fresh tomatoes.

At present, the current volume of trade between the two nations stands at roughly $350 million with a goal of the two governments to increase it to around $ 1 billion in the coming three years. The major exports from India to Afghanistan constitute of man-made filaments, articles of apparels and clothing accessories, pharmaceutical products, cereals, man-made staple fibres, dairy and poultry products, spices to name a few. While major imports from Afghanistan include fresh fruits, dried fruits/nuts, vegetable, oil seeds, precious, semi-precious stones etc.

Earlier, transporting cargo by road, comprising of mostly perishable goods was impractical since it not only faced logistical problems but also added to the cost of the goods while they passed through various states.

The inauguration of the Kabul-Mumbai air corridor received an overwhelming response from traders on both sides. With an expected increase in the frequency of cargo exchange in the coming months facilitated by the Mumbai airport, India and Afghanistan are on the threshold of becoming long-term trade partners.

The move was a part of the Government of India’s agenda to strengthen the bilateral trade relations between India and Afghanistan.