The fish processing industry in the coastal region is reportedly hit because Air India Express has refused to export chilled fish from the Mangaluru International Airport (MIA) to various Gulf countries.
The airline reportedly stopped accepting fish a few years ago after a few stray incidents of spillage onboard that affected other cargo and passenger baggage.
Exporters now have to transport fish in trucks from Mangaluru to airports in Goa, Bengaluru and Kozhikode where Air India and other Gulf-based airlines accept the cargo. But they say it is adding to the cost and affecting the quality.
Ismail Haldipur of Al Farhan Sea Foods said in a statement, “Unlike frozen fish which is exported through cargo ships from New Mangalore Port, the chilled fish is packed and exported on the same day when boats bring the catch. On many occasions, by the time it reaches Bengaluru after an 8-10 hour journey, the ice melts and the consignment has to be repacked. Also, lack of godowns to repack in Bengaluru is a major concern.”
According to reports, this is the reason why most exporters prefer Goa International Airport as it is closer and has lesser rush. The exporters find no logic behind the airline’s refusal, as it carries chilled fish from the Thiruvananthapuram airport. They opine that the airlines should only reject consignments that are not packed as per specifications.
Isaac Vas, President, Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a recent letter to the Air India Express CEO stated that accepting chilled fish at MIA would benefit both airlines and exporters. The region’s exporters employ scientific chilling processes available at the KFDC facility, he added.Recently, Indigo Airlines agreed to export fish from MIA, but it will not help much as there is demand in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, while Indigo flies only to Dubai from MIA.