Starting Sunday, the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) began charging airline passengers a fee to finance development. On Friday, the government allowed the private developer at Mumbai’s airport to levy a similar fee from April, in effect authorizing a passenger-funded bailout.
Both these developers won competitive bids for their contracts. But when they find themselves short of cash in a downturn, they are looking to squeeze passengers, instead of facing the business risk inherent in such projects. When airports across Asia are reducing charges to stimulate air travel, India’s happy moving in reverse gear. Developers in other cities have also been allowed a similar levy, a move that will increase the cost of air travel.
Indian passengers have no problem paying for world-class facilities. But they’ll now be paying for a future facility. Instead of protecting passengers, the government—which screamed “cartelization” when airlines increased their fares in tandem last month—is only aiding a monopoly.