In a controversial election-eve decision, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (Aera) has allowed privately managed Delhi and Mumbai airports to continue charging the user development fees (UDF) from passengers, and landing and parking charges from airlines for another two months.
The civil aviation ministry wanted a reduction in the Delhi airport tariff rates, at least, by half for the next five years but airport operator Delhi International Airports Limited (Dial) has opposed the move.
Commercial airlines, which are piling up losses, and air passengers, who have to bear the burden of the extra charges, have been complaining against the high fees.
Ministry sources said that the tariff for Delhi and Mumbai airports was fixed till March 31 but operators of the two airports, GMR Group's Dial and GVK- led Mumbai International Airport Limited (Mial) respectively had sought more time for fixing these charges. Besides UDF, parking and landing charges, the tariff also includes charges for parking aircraft, ground handling, safety services, fuel supply, surveillance, supportive communication and navigation for aircraft.
In its latest orders for the two airports, Aera said that the rates of aeronautical charges would continue at the same levels for two months till May 31 or till further orders. "We have not worked out UDF and aeronautical tariffs yet. If we are able to factor in all related accounts required, we can come out with the new tariffs by May 31.
We have to bring in various factors like passenger flow, performance of airlines, aeronautical and nonaeronautical charges before working out the tariff structure," Yashwant S. Bhave, chairman, Aera, told Mail Today on Sunday. The control period for tariffs fixed by AERA is five years.
In 2013, Dial had urged Aera to put on hold tariff determination citing unresolved financial issues, including rate of return on equity and calculation of asset base.
While Dial had sought a sixmonth extension for prevailing tariff rates since the fixation of new charges for the second control period would take some time, Mial had wanted the same rates to continue till new ones are fixed.
Earlier, while determining the tariff structure, Aera had allowed Delhi airport to hike aeronautical charges by 354 per cent from May 2012. But this was opposed by many airlines as well as the International Air Transport Association (Iata), which said that these high charges have made Delhi airport the most expensive in the world badly hurting fliers and airlines.
A ERA had on February 25 issued an order scrapping the UDF from April 1 by Hyderabad airport, run by GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd, to stop collection of UDF from March. GMR has moved a petition in the High Court against the decision. The order was issued after wide consultation with all stakeholders to determine tariffs in respect of the airport for the five-year period ending March 31, 2016.
Currently, each departing domestic passenger at Hyderabad airport pays Rs 430 as UDF while the levy for departing international passengers is Rs 1,700 each.
At present, 11 airports, including Delhi and Bangalore, charge UDF ranging from Rs 100-Rs 430 for domestic passenger.
Courtesy: Mail Today