April 13, 2010 12:11:42 am
For international passengers departing from the state-owned Trivandrum International Airport (TIA),flying is set to become more expensive. The countrys airports regulator Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) is likely to approve the levy of User Development Fee (UDF) of Rs 755 per departing international flyer for a period of 10 years. We have already indicated our stand that the UDF may be levied on departing international passengers only at the airport. We would be taking a decision soon based on stakeholders inputs,which we have received, AERA chairman Yashwant Bhave told The Indian Express.
The state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) that operates TIA had sought the authoritys approval to begin levying the airport tax or UDF,to coincide with the opening of the new international terminal building at the airport in April. The authority had proposed a levy for all passengers departing from the airport for a period of either 10 or 15 years. It had accordingly proposed two different sets of the levy Rs 550 and Rs 1,020 per domestic and international passenger for 10 years or Rs 280 and Rs 715 per departing domestic and international passenger for a period of 15 years. The AAI had made projections of UDF charges by considering revenues from the aeronautical side together with 30 per cent revenues from the non-aeronautical side,such as retail and commercial spaces.
The AAI had said that the project is not financially viable without the levy of UDF and the levy is proposed to bridge the viability gap. The project cost increased from the government-approved Rs 245 crore to an estimated Rs 289 crore,as per the AAIs latest estimates. However,AERA,which has decided to follow the policy of Single Till (that combines aero and non-aero revenues) for the determination of airport tax has revised the estimates,lowering them considerably. It has also indicated its intent to levy the charge on international flyers only,as the new terminal building is for international operations alone. The authority has indicated that this ad-hoc charge would be reviewed at the stage of determination of the airport tariff.
The airlines,on the other hand,appear to be less enthused about the rising user charges. Air India has said that there should be a differential UDF for low-cost carriers such as Air India Express,and also warned that the international passengers may shift from the Trivandrum airport to the nearby Kochi airport.
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