ACFI ‘South India Summit’ spotlights the region’s role as future growth engine

The Air Cargo Forum of India (ACFI)’s flagship Southern Region event ‘South India Summit’ held on February 02, 2024 (Friday), at Taj Bangalore set the bar higher by showcasing the collaborative efforts of visionary leaders, experts, and industry stakeholders in driving the growth and advancement of the air cargo and aviation sectors in the Southern India region.

The ACFI Chapters of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Chennai, Kerala collaborated and put forth their collective action and efforts to set the perfect stage for this important event themed ‘South India: Connecting Horizons’. With 21 domestic and 12 international airports, the Southern states of India are set for to propel growth of the region as aviation economies and give wings to the Indian air cargo ecosystem.

The summit provided an exceptional platform for knowledge sharing and collaboration to pave the way for growth of the air cargo sector in the southern region — the major contributor to the nation’s economic growth.

Dr Shalini Rajneesh, IAS, Additional Chief Secretary cum Development Commissioner, Government of Karnataka presided over the occasion as Chief Guest, whille Kajal Singh, IRS, Principal Commissioner – Customs ACC & Airport, Bengaluru; Bhaskar Anand Rao, CFO, BIAL; and Pradeep Panicker, CEO, GHIAL graced the event as Guests of Honours, alongside over 150 industry delegates from within the air cargo sector and airlines, as well as media delegates who attended the event.

The welcome address was delivered by Chairman ACFI – Bangalore Chapter, Fletcher Samuel, followed by ACFI President, Yashpal Sharma.

The Keynote speech was delivered Dhruv Lal, Partner, BCG, who emphasised on the indicators leading India towards the 3rd largest economy rank by the year 2030. During his presentation, he casted light on various factors leading phenomenal growth of the country as the fastest developing economy. He also highlighted that India’s domestic consumption acts as a key driver and the accelerating FDI that has doubled in the last seven years, coupled with the PLI scheme that caters to the sectors like auto, pharma, solar equipment, etc. which also benefit and uplifts the air cargo sector’s potential.

Chief Guest Dr. Shalini Rajneesh commented on the potential that the southern states hold for the whole world in terms of air cargo transport. She highlighted how in Karnataka alone there is immense scope for horticulture items to be marketed to customers globally, particularly perishables and cut flowers. She also highlighted the need to connect the producers from the hinterland to the airports.

“Cargo plays a very critical role when it comes to transporting perishables. It is extremely important to understand how our air cargo stakeholders work with the producers and other logisticians of the state for timely movement and delivery of perishable goods,” Dr Shalini noted.

The strategic business sessions, expertly curated by senior figures in the air cargo industry like Manish Agnihothri, CEO, WFS India; Reshma Zaheer, Chief Operating Officer, TT Logistics & Cargo; and Satish Lakkaraju, Global Head – Air Freight and Pharma, WIZ Freight, delved into key themes such as connecting supply chain horizons, identifying trends, challenges, and opportunities, and creating value within the air cargo ecosystem.

Key highlight of the summit was the powerful fireside session led by ACFI President Yashpal Sharma and Vice President Sanjiv Edward, which underscored the pivotal role of South India in driving the growth of the Indian air cargo industry and enhancing global connectivity. The session also focussed on how ACFI is set to pivot from being a facilitator to a ‘Business Developer’ for Air Cargo.

Overall, the summit successfully fostered collaboration, discussion, and knowledge exchange, aimed at collectively addressing regulatory, technological, and environmental challenges, and driving sustainable growth and innovation in the air cargo and aviation segments within the southern region of India.

ACFI Governing Board Members and regional leaders including Kamesh Peri, Keku Bomi Gazdar, Prasad Gengusetti, along with other leaders of ACFI namely, Fletcher Samuel, Chairman – Bengaluru Chapter; V Chandra Kumar, Vice Chairman –Bengaluru Chapter; Parul Kulshreshtha, Chairperson – Hyderabad Chapter; Kamal Jain, Vice Chairman – Hyderabad Chapter; Manoj P Joseph, Chairman – Kerala Chapter, further emphasised the importance and commitment to addressing regional challenges and opportunities within the air cargo sector.

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