New Delhi: The Centre plans to increase access charges levied on passengers at five airports in Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Ahemadabad and Thiruvananthapuram to help fund their expansion, civil aviation minister Praful Patel has said.
Patel, who spoke with reporters after inaugurating a new passenger terminal at the Capital’s airport, did not specify by how much the charges—currently, set at Rs225 each ticket—would be increased and when the new levies would kick in.
This is the first time that any airport controlled by regulator Airports Authority of India (AAI), which runs most of the country’s airports through an eponymous unit, will increase the fee to fund development.
Until now, the only airport allowed to increase passenger levies is in New Delhi, operated by Delhi International Airport Ltd, or DIAL, a private consortium led by GMR Infrastructure Ltd. The new fee of Rs200 for domestic and Rs1,300 for international passengers kicks in from 1 March.
Travel lobby International Air Transport Association has criticized India for the charges, calling it a pre-development fee in a slowing economy.
Airlines, meanwhile, have agreed to include the new levy at New Delhi in air tickets, saving passengers the trouble of making the payment at the airport. The fee, expected to yield at least Rs1,800 crore over three years, was earlier expected to be charged at the airport premises. A similar levy for GVK Power Infrastructure Ltd-led consortium of Mumbai International Airport Ltd is pending government approval.
The new terminal in Delhi is expected to streamline operations at the airport that expects to handle 30 million travellers by 2010. Passengers will start using the so-called Terminal 1D from March end, when airlines from Terminal 1B are moved there. These include Jet Airways (India) Ltd, JetLite India Ltd, Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, SpiceJet Ltd and InterGlobe Aviation Pvt. Ltd-run IndiGo. Air India will continue to use Terminal 1A at the domestic airport joined by GoAirlines (India) Pvt. Ltd and MDLR Airlines Pvt. Ltd.
DIAL’s chief operations officer Andrew Harrison said the defunct Terminal 1B could be razed, though a decision has not yet been taken.