Rs.755 to be levied on international passengers

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) nod for collecting a user development fee of Rs.755 from international passengers flying out of the airport here for a period of 10 years has stirred up a hornet's nest much before the commissioning of the Rs.300-crore international terminal building.

The fee is to be collected from the date of commissioning of the terminal, slated to be held later this month.

The local MP and the former Union Minister of State for External Affairs Shashi Tharoor spoke out against the order on Tuesday.

Mayor C. Jayan Babu said the decision seemed to be part of the “conspiracy to torpedo the working of the international airport.” It would destroy the airport, which should get more priority and modern facilities since it was in the capital city and several international airlines operated from here.

Mr. Babu said user fee was not collected from those flying out from the Nedumbassery and the Karipur airports. Those using the airport here were likely to shift to the Nedumbassery airport. The tourism and aviation sector would be badly affected if the passengers were to shift to other airports.

He urged the Civil Aviation Ministry to intervene and withdraw the decision to collect the fee.

Plea to Union Minister

The decision had its echo in the Gulf countries with an NRI organisation, Pravasibandhu Trust, writing to Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel to withdraw the user fee. “If at all, it is essential, the fee should be brought down to Rs.250,” the organisation suggested. Nearly 70 per cent of the passengers from the international airport were those employed in the Gulf countries, it said.

The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) announced that it would take out a march to the Airports Authority of India office here on Thursday demanding withdrawal of the fee. The DYFI State secretariat warned the AAI that it would resort to agitation till the fee was withdrawn.

Exempted

The AERA has clarified that no fee should be levied on domestic passengers.

The AAI had sought to levy the user fee to make the airport project viable.

It had proposed a levy on all passengers flying out from the airport for a period of either 10 or 15 years. It had proposed Rs.550 and Rs.1,020 for every domestic and international passenger for 10 years or Rs.280 and Rs.715 for every domestic and international passenger for 15 years.