The Passenger Service Fee (PSF), levied on air travellers, might marginally go up as the ministries of home and civil aviation were finding it increasingly difficult to manage the escalating cost of airport security, the government officials said. The differences between the ministries over who would bear the cost of providing security at airports continued to linger with the Civil Aviation Ministry arguing that it was the responsibility of the central government to provide security since it was a sovereign function.
The Home Ministry had set up a committee to find out the actual cost of providing security in the 98 functional airports while the Civil Aviation Ministry would find out how much revenue it could generate from the PSF, car parking facilities and through rentals in all airports in the country,a senior government official, privy to the development, said. If the revenue did not commensurate with the cost, there was a possibility of enhancing the PSF marginally in future as it had become increasingly difficult to manage the escalating cost of airports security, another official said on condition of anonymity. Around Rs 150 is levied as PSF on each air traveller.
Currently, Rs 800 crore is due to the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) by the airports operators for providing security to the airports. Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju, their counterpart in the Finance Ministry, Arjun Ram Meghwal, and top officials had held series of meetings on the issue in recent past but without any results. The ministries of home and civil aviation were also engaged in discussions on how to put in place a unified security architecture for the aviation sector and consolidation of security at airports under the CISF cover.
Out of the 98 functional airports in the country, 59 were under the CISF cover. Among them 26 airports, including those in New Delhi and Mumbai, were in the hyper-sensitive category. Of these hyper-sensitive airports, 18 were under the CISF security cover, while six like Srinagar and Imphal, were being guarded by the CRPF, the state police or other paramilitary forces. Under the sensitive category, there are 56 airports out of which only 37 had CISF cover.