SINGAPORE: Vegetables grown in Tamil Nadu have become a favoured commodity in Singapore given the huge volume of export to the South-East Asian nation every month. Among overseas nations having direct flight connectivity with Tiruchi, Singapore has emerged as the leading overseas market for shippers of the central region exporting vegetables to the country every day. Nearly 400 tonnes of perishables – vegetables, fruits and flowers – were being exported to Singapore per month from Tiruchi international freight terminal through three overseas carriers.
Exports to Singapore alone constitute nearly 80% of the entire overseas freight dispatched from Tiruchi international airport every month. Of the nearly 20 tonnes of perishables dispatched overseas daily, nearly 13 tonnes to 14 tonnes were directed to Singapore, say airport sources. The huge demand in Singapore for vegetables grown in Tamil Nadu; the competitive rates offered to shippers of the central region and the frequency of flights has led to this rising trend, say stakeholders. Assorted vegetables including brinjal, ladies finger and beans besides lemon, coconut and chillies make for the bulk of exports to the South East Asian country. Vegetables are lifted to Singapore by Singapore-bound Scoot Airlines and the Kuala Lumpur –bound Air Asia and Malindo Air flights. The sources said Air Asia and Malindo Air which operates 28 flights and 13 flights to Kuala Lumpur respectively every week from Tiruchi lifts freight meant only for Singapore though they operate to the Malaysian capital. If only Air India Express which also operates a daily service to Singapore comes forward to lift adequate freight from here, the volume cargo to that country would only soar further given the demand, feel the stakeholders. International cargo is lifted in the left over belly space of overseas passenger flights after accommodating baggage of the travellers in the absence of dedicated freighter aircraft from here. As compared to Coimbatore and Madurai international airports in the State, the volume of international freight dispatched from Tiruchi to Singapore and other foreign destinations was much higher.
International cargo handled at Tiruchi airport during the 2016-17 financial was over 6,800 tonnes – which was nearly six times higher than what was handled at Coimbatore airport, according to Airports Authority of India statistics. The sources said Kuwait was another overseas destination where daily shipments of nearly 2.5 tonnes of perishables take off from here and reaches there via Colombo. Given the current demand and potential, stakeholders feel that if a dedicated freighter is operated at least once or twice a week to Singapore, the cargo volume would only further rise.