After registering strong protest against the decision of Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) to hike airport fees by almost 344 per cent, international carriers, on Thursday, took strong exception to the reported move to hike airport charges at the newly-developed Chennai International Airport.

Stating that any move to hike charges at the Chennai airport would have a negative impact on foreign travel, these international airlines were of the view that it would adversely impact the aviation sector in India.

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has proposed to increase the rates which would be valid till 2015-16 and sought the views of all stakeholders.

Leading the charge against the hike is German carrier Lufthansa, which operates flights on the Chennai-Frankfurt route. In a statement issued here, Lufthansa said the proposed unreasonable increase in airport charges at Chennai airport would have a strong negative effect on the economic result of the sector.

“National and international airlines are operating in a very tough market environment in India and elsewhere. Lufthansa is investing in new products, services and new technologies, especially more fuel-efficient aircraft, and, at the same time, is committed to save 1.5 billion euro in an internal cost savings programme in order to remain competitive and profitable. At the same time, Lufthansa is the leading European airline to connect Chennai and the State of Tamil Nadu with Europe, providing convenient access for visitors, tourists and businesses alike. In the interest of our Indian customers and the future joint success of the Chennai-Frankfurt route, we urge the responsible management of Chennai International Airport to reconsider the move,” the statement added.

The statement comes in the backdrop of other international carriers such as British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and Singapore Airlines joining all Indian airlines in opposing the hike in airport charges.

The proposal mooted by Airports Authority of India (AAI), which developed the Chennai airport, seeks an increase of 118 per cent in international and 48 per cent in domestic landing charges from November 1, minimum landing fee of Rs.5,000 per landing and an 83 per cent hike in parking and housing charges for planes.

It also proposed to impose User Development Fees (UDF) of Rs.165 per domestic and Rs.667 per international passenger from January 1 next year.

From 2013-14 onwards, there would be an annual escalation of 6 per cent each tariff year on landing, housing, parking and UDF, according to the proposal.