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Airfares may rise as govt mulls hike in security charge on air tickets

Private airport operators and state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) have reportedly demanded an increase in passenger service fees after the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) complained about unpaid dues.

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Airfares may rise as govt mulls hike in security charge on air tickets

Flying may soon cost a little more as the government is mulling a hike in security charge on air tickets. Private airport operators like GMR and state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) have demanded an increase in passenger service fees after the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) complained about unpaid dues from airport operators, Business Standard reported.

"We are considering a marginal increase in the security component of passenger service fees, after the airport operators submitted that with an exponential growth in passenger numbers, the current charges are not enough to bear the cost of security management at airports. The charges will not increase much and a passenger may have to bear an extra of Rs 50," the report quoted a senior civil aviation ministry official as saying. The security charge of Rs 130 per passenger has not been revised for the last 10 years.

According to the daily, the Union home secretary earlier this month wrote to the civil aviation ministry, saying the CISF will withdraw security from the Delhi airport if the payment isn't processed.

Passenger Service Fees (PSF) is levied to meet the expenditure on airport security and passenger facilities at the airports. PSF, which is charged as part of passenger fare of air travel, comprises two components - security and facilitation fee. The security portion of PSF is collected to meet the expenditure on security services provided by CISF.

The facilitation charge is for services such as baggage trolleys, chairs, escalators, travelators, air conditioning in terminal, conveyor belt system for baggage, information signages, flight information display system, Wi-fi system, public address system, etc.

The CISF has reportedly claimed that there has been a huge delay in payment, while the operators are saying they do not have enough money to pay the security force. "We guard critical facilities and installations such as airports, steel plants, atomic power plants across the country, for which we charge a fee. The service fee is supposed to be deposited by 10th of every month, which is then used by the Home Ministry to pay salaries and allowances to the personnel at those facilities. We have flagged the issue to the highest authority," a senior CISF official told the newspaper. He added that almost Rs 800 crore is due from GMR-owned Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).

The government has already decided to hand over security of all 93 civilian airports to the CISF. The force is guarding 59 civilian airports at the moment. The process is being fast-tracked now. The CISF will take charge of all airports eventually except two airports of Srinagar and Jammu which have CRPF as security cover.

"With the exponential growth in passengers that Delhi and Mumbai have witnessed, the cost of maintaining security has increased manifold. Checkpoints have increased, the number of boarding gates has gone up. We need the money," the report quoted a CISF official.

In a clarification, Delhi Airport said that according to the privatisation agreement signed in 2006, the airport security should be the duty of the state and DIAL is working in a fiduciary capacity on a tariff that has not changed in the last 10 years. "DIAL is meeting security-related expenses out of an escrow account according to guidelines issued by MoCA from time to time. With cost exceeding collection over the years, there is a deficit in PSF (security charge) account. DIAL Management had a meeting with CISF in the recent past and was apprised about the reasons for the deficit. We are coordinating with the government to make sure that the issue is addressed."

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