Cyrus Katgara, Partner – Jeena & Company and President of Air Cargo Forum India (ACFI)

“My responsibility is towards profitability and prosperity for all stakeholders”

Cyrus Katgara, one of the known and humble personalities in the air cargo fraternity, has set an example in the industry with their business of generations, being the Partner – Jeena & Company. Such vast experience and presence in the air cargo industry is the requirement for the growth and betterment of the industry and therefore, it is glad to see him taking a new role as President of Air Cargo Forum India (ACFI), an association of air cargo logistics industry in India. In an exclusive interview with Apace Digital Cargo, he shares his role and responsibilities and strategy to boost the sector working in coordination with government, airports and agents. In addition, he shares a positive approach towards the revival of the industry post Covid-19.

To begin with, first of all congratulations for the presidency of ACFI. Please share your association with ACFI. And what are the key responsibilities being president at the forum?

I am one of the founding members of ACFI. The past eight years have been an amazing journey for us. ACFI being the first and only association of air cargo logistics supply chain industry in India having membership from the entire segment of the air cargo logistics supply chain industry. My major responsibilities include creating an environment of profitability and prosperity for all stakeholders, supporting ACFI’s vision of going paperless and promoting airfreight as a key supply chain function. 

What is the key agenda at the ACFI? What is the strategy to strengthen the role of the Forum among the air cargo fraternity? 

The forum came into being with the realization that the efficiency of the entire chain of Air cargo movement is determined by the least efficient parts of the process handled by any of the stakeholders. In order to bring overall efficiency in the entire chain of air cargo, the strategy was to have a more collaborative approach between various stakeholders such as Forwarders, Customs Brokers , Custodians, Terminal operators Carriers to overcome the bottlenecks and information lags. The first step was to create a platform to address operational, regulatory and compliance, matters in a collaborative manner. Second step was to jointly represent with a common cohesive voice, the regulatory matters that need government intervention. So far we have been very effective on both the fronts and results are huge reduction in dwell time both in exports and imports from the time ACFI became active.

Being in the new normal of social distancing, how will ACFI ensure continuous connection with the industry? Is web interactions, meetings or other digital platforms the solution to this?

Yes, web interactions are proving to be more efficient and more frequent, as we are able to save a lot of commuting time for physical meetings and also able to find more suitable slots for the meetings. The meetings are more focused and sharing of the meeting material online is also much more efficient.

 To strengthen the air cargo scenario specially post Covid-19, government and airports have a greater role to play. So, what are your expectations and demands regarding the same?

 Yes, Governments and Airports have the key role to play in post Covid-19 recovery. Government should reduce the overall direct and indirect tax burden on this industry by rationalization of indirect taxation on fuel. Airports can also work on their Airport related services tariffs to make Air cargo more economical and more attractive to end users.

The other low hanging fruit is to process simplification, automation and digitization of the entire chain of processes to ensure paperless movement of documents and information and faceless clearance of cargo. That will increase manpower productivity and cut handling costs incurred by various stakeholders in the chain.

Finally, what is your message to the air cargo fraternity amid this grim situation of Covid-19? What is the outlook for the industry in the near future? 

The bounce back of the cargo has been much faster in the months of June and July than expected and we hope the trend will continue. The initial response of shock to paralysis to the Covid is now translating into a more calibrated, realistic and effective response by all the agencies involved including government as well as private commercial entities of all kinds. We have a better understanding about dos and don’ts in this situation of pandemic. Greater and greater sensitivity is disseminating the masses to take measures that enable economic activity along with precautions. We are learning to live with this pandemic and soon we expect the economy to be back on track with little impact on health risk or economic risk.    

Interview by: Jasleen Kaur. [email protected]