20% growth in demand for express courier services in Mumbai

The express and courier industry has had a good year with corporates adopting logistics solutions in a big way. At the same time, the common man is accessing express and courier services on a daily basis, according to Mr Tushar Jani, Chairman, Blue Dart Express Ltd.

The demand for express and courier services has spurred around 20 per cent growth in the segment over the year, he said.

Mr Jani, also the Chairman of the Express Industry Council of India, said that the air express industry, in particular, had matured with large-scale investments being made on infrastructure.

A recent example was the 20,000 sq. ft express cargo terminal set up at a cost of Rs 2 crore by the industry at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi.

DHL was also setting up a 25,000 sq. ft facility at the airport.

Besides, the industry was in talks with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to set up a 56,000 sq. ft terminal in Mumbai.

Simultaneously, the Government was streamlining Customs regulations for faster clearance of shipments. Here again, the industry is in talks with the Ministry to set up a technology platform that would be accessible by all concerned players, including the Customs Department.

Blue Dart had given a boost to the domestic air express segment, he said, with customers seeking early morning deliveries. As a result, more express companies were booking belly space on commercial airlines for shipments. shipments were being booked on Indian Airlines, Sahara and Jet airways at a premium of up to 120 per cent that of the normal cargo rate, he said.

Speed Post, the Government-owned courier company, had also risen to the challenge, with the appointment of a number of business development officers and investments on information technology solutions.

As for regulatory issues, the industry, Mr Jani said, had strongly opposed the move to amend the Indian Postal Act, which is now tabled in Parliament.

Under the proposed amendment, the Government would license all courier companies, with the Post Master General responsible for issuing licenses. The express players have come out against the amendment because it would vest licensing powers with a competitor.

He added that third- and fourth-party logistics services were in a nascent stage as far as the service provider and the user were concerned. Once issues such as sales tax and value-added tax were better understood, this segment would also take off by 2005.

The issue of onboard couriers had also been resolved with the Government and Customs dispensing with the need for the same.

However, Mr Jani added that some airlines had to accept the new ruling.

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