WHILE THE Pune Airport administration is backing its move to charge a surcharge of Rs 85 on vehicles that are on wait or on the move for more than five minutes near the airport premises, this has led to a bigger concern — a severe traffic congestion on the road outside the airport gate.
According to activists, owing to the fear of being charged a penalty, the drivers are preferring to drop the occupants outside the entry gate and then manoeuvre the vehicle to take a U-turn leading to traffic congestion. Similarly, during the morning and evening rush hours, the vehicles that reach the airport to pick up passengers and wait outside on the narrow road is also leading to a jam on the approach road.
In the first week of November, the airport administration had decided to charge Rs 85 extra for vehicles when the difference between entry and exit timings is more than five minutes. The surcharge for Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) is Rs 100.
According to aviation expert and former chairman of Pune Airline Operators Committee Dhairyashil Vandekar, the practice adopted by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) at several of its airports, is not only unfair but is also putting an additional strain on passengers with reduced mobility. He said the move has proved counterproductive since it has managed to “decongest” the airport premise but has caused huge problems right outside its gates.
Vandekar wrote about the issue to Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma and have also received a response from the ministry that promised him to look into the issue.
“In a drive to generate more revenue, the AAI looks at the increasing number of vehicles visiting the Pune Airport as a lucrative source of revenue. Though there are severe constraints at Pune Airport, the AAI is known to be making substantial profit at Pune. Instead of passing a part of this profit to passengers, it is unfairly putting additional burden on them,” said Vandekar.
“It is the duty of the AAI and the Traffic Police to ensure the airport remains decongested by putting efficient systems, procedures and personnel in place,” he said.
Ajay Kumar, Airport Director, however, denied Vandekar’s assertions. “His observations are faulty. The experiment at the airport is successful and it’s not causing any jam outside the airport premises,” he said.