A lot remains to be done at the Surat Airport to start Cargo facility for the Diamond industry, Fresh Fruit and Vegetables farmers, Flori-culture, Textile Industry and in general for all the medium & large industries in and around Surat district and 4 other districts of South Gujarat region.
A very large chunk of the trade of the Surat district & The South Gujarat region depends upon shipping fresh produce or manufactured goods from the nearest Airport at Mumbai, which is in the neighboring state. Sadly no effort had been made for Air cargo facility or to develop Airport infrastructure & Air Connectivity to serve the entire South Gujarat region, although it has a large agricultural and industrial base. Most fresh farm producers are either unable to export and lose high returns on their produces by selling it domestically or lose revenue by means of spoiled goods; incurred due to time consuming road transportation to Mumbai. Other manufacturing industries follow the same route as they have no other option but to ship it by road or via Mumbai Airport. On the other hand Diamond businesses face a major security hazard as they have to courier high value finished products by road or by rail, as even air connectivity to Mumbai city is very negligible, even to this day.
Currently cargo facility is very limited and it is available in the form of Charter flights, flown in to bring in fresh prawn cultures, for the Aqua culture farms in and around Surat.
Spicejet and Air India has started taking cargo loads along with its passenger services, it is however primarily limited in the form of courier operations and special shipments for Diamond industry. These shipments are expected to increase in multiples with more flights and more destinations being added in the coming few months,
By the formation of Air Cargo Logistic Promotion Board, specially created by MOCA to promote Air Cargo facility at all the major city airports throughout India. A team from AAI Regional Headquarters in Mumbai, visited Surat Airport some time back to evaluate and assess the needs and requirements for a Cargo Terminal. They have lately approved a plan and since some time, the same has been awaiting at a stage of awarding of the construction work for the Cargo Terminal at Surat Airport.
Ironically, Cargo Terminal at Surat Airport is said to be a pet project of the PM himself and is under direct supervion of PMO; however the entire process is heading at a snails pace and has been pushed back time and again, from deadlines to newer deadlines and from few months to few years. have passed with negligible progress at the ground level.
In a similar situation, although the development of High security Vault area at the Airport has been sanctioned long back, work seems to have progressed a little till date and promises are being made to provide this facility to the Diamond businesses of the city since years; till date it is still however unclear when the secured storage facility will finally be operational.
Finally the Tender has been approved and work has been awarded to a Surat based company for the 14,000 sqft Cargo Terminal at Surat Airport. With ground level of 10,800 and +1 level of 3,200 sqft respectively, the terminal will cost Rs 5.56 crores. A work order for the same effect has been issued dated November, 2017 by Western Region Head Quarters in Mumbai and the project is to be completed in 13 months.
However the Surat based company expects it to achieve the goal in just 9 months, though it was not mentioned by what date the work will commence from.
Keeping in mind all the causes & contingencies, in all probability the Cargo Terminal at Surat Airport should be ready and hopefully operational too, earliest by September, 2018