Emboldened by the levy of user development fee (UDF) by private airport operators in Delhi, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has also moved a proposal to levy UDF on domestic and international passengers at the Kolkata airport from January 1, 2013, making flight operations expensive for passengers and cargo movement.

Government sources in the Civil Aviation Ministry said that AAI, which owns and maintains the Kolkata Airport, had already got the nod of Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) for its proposal, and only consultations with the stakeholders were left to be held before the actual notification was issued.

Under the new rule, UDF of Rs.400 on every flying domestic passenger and Rs.1,000 on an international passenger will be levied from January 1 next year. Based on the traffic levels of 2011-12, AAI would earn about Rs.500 crore from the proposed UDF levies. During 2011-12, the airport handled 8.7 million domestic and 1.6 million international passengers.

There is more bad news for the passengers as AAI has proposed an increase of 118 per cent in the landing fee for international airlines. For domestic airlines, the airport operator has proposed a 48 per cent increase in landing charges. The enhanced landing charges are likely to come into force from November 1 this year.

With domestic and international airlines already protesting against the 346 per cent hike in airport charges by Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) and also the proposed hike in airport charges at the newly-constructed Chennai airport, it is not clear as to how the airlines will handle the latest hike. Industry experts were of the view that any hike in airport charges would certainly be passed on to the consumers. AERA also proposes to approve AAI’s plan for an 8 per cent increase in prevailing cargo rates from November 1 this year. Besides, it has proposed a further 8 per cent increase in cargo rates at the beginning of fiscal 2013, 2014 and 2015.