Private airline Go First here on Monday signed a pact with the UAE-based Lulu Group to transport cargo from Srinagar to Sharjah.
Go First was the first airline to start direct international connection from the Kashmir Valley and has now also become the first airline to start the international cargo services from the sector.
The memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Go First Head (Corporate Affairs) Mohit Dwivedi and Lulu Group Director Salim M A, in the presence of Principal Secretary Industries and Commerce, and Administrative Secretary, Civil Aviation department, Government of Jammu and Kashmir, Ranjan Thakur.
The Lulu Group director said there were immense export opportunities in Kashmir.
"On behalf of the Lulu, I am very thankful to the Government of Jammu and Kashmir as well as the Government of India for giving us the opportunity to come to Kashmir. We are quite surprised to see the immense opportunities that we have for the exports from here.
"As Lulu, we will be able to take a lot of fruit, vegetables and antique and craft and a lot more items. We assure you that we will do our best to export goods from Kashmir," Salim M A said.
The Go First expressed happiness over becoming the first airline to transport the cargo from here to the Gulf countries.
"On behalf of Go First, I would like to thank the Jammu and Kashmir government, Lulu Group and the Government of India, for giving us this opportunity for taking up the cargo for gulf countries. We are happy with this agreement," Go First's Dwivedi said.
He said the airline will start the operations from December this year.
Describing the MoU as a historic opportunity, Thakur said Lulu is the biggest retailer in the Gulf region and its presence will benefit the farmers, growers and artisans here.
"This MoU is a further development to the J&K's MoU with the Dubai government. The LuLu Group will source a lot of horticulture, agriculture products and handicrafts from J&K. They will follow it up with many more in the future," he said.
Thakur added that this will provide an opportunity to our farmers, growers, weavers and our artisans to access a large market and Lulu will get a good product to sell to their customers. "This is a win-win situation. The logistics support has been provided by Go First and the Lulu Group will do the marketing. We are only the facilitators."
He said the purpose is to have the farmers earn profits.
"This will get a better price in a short term transit on a long term basis, with easy access. This is the world opening up to J&K. For the time being, the cargo will be taken in the daily flight, but we can deploy a freighter as well when the time comes," he said.
Thakur said the Go First flight between Srinagar and Sharjah, which is currently operating four days a week, will soon become a daily flight and it will enable a bridge between J&K and the Gulf region and in particular to Dubai and Sharjah regions.
"We will get many opportunities through their (Lulu) retailers. The Lulu group was already exporting apples. Their foray into J&K indicates our seriousness and our efforts.
"I must congratulate the people of J&K and look forward to a much more meaningful relationship in the future also. We also hope that the Lulu Group will have a permanent presence in J&K," he said.
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