Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) on Sunday opened a new office complex for the Maldives’ air cargo facility, and introduced a computerised records system to monitor and track cargo for the first time.
The first order on the new system, used by airport developer GMR at its other airports in India, was printed by chief guest Fisheries Minister Ahmed Shafeeu at the inauguration event.
“Previously it was done using stacks of paper, reams of it,” said CEO of INIA, Andrew Harrison, adding that the system would allow greater transparency and monitoring for customs officials.
The new office complex includes offices for airlines and customs officials, as well as sales counters, and greatly increases the amount of room available for storage. Other innovations included a women’s washroom: “Previously the ladies working here had to walk all the way down to the domestic terminal,” noted Harrison.
The new air cargo facilities give the Maldives the capacity to become a regional trans-shipment hub, Harrison explained, observing that airlines such as BA already used the Maldives to carry goods such as garments from Sri Lanka.
There was, he said, a ‘build it and they will come’ philosophy which had worked well for the company in Hyderbad following its opening of pharmaceutical storage facilities.
Particularly in such an import-dependent economy such as the Maldives, cargo was attractive to airlines as was a more consistent revenue stream compared to fluctuating ticket revenue, and more able to withstand economic shocks.
“When the 2003 SARS epidemic hit, Cathay Pacific only survived because by then it was deriving 43 percent of its revenue from cargo,” Harrison explained.