Shashi Tharoor, MP, has urged the Centre to set up an Appellate Tribunal to reconsider the decision of the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) to collect user development fee from all international passengers flying out of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.
In a letter to Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel, AERA Secretary Sandeep Prakash and Airports Authority of India (AAI) Chairman V.P. Agarwal, the former Union Minister of State for External Affair also called for a stay on the decision to collect Rs.755 user fee from July 1 till the Appellate Authority took a decision.
Mr. Tharoor pointed out that the law permitted setting up of the Appellate Tribunal to reconsider the AERA decision. Several complaints had come up against the decision. But, the authorities had not bothered to set up the Appellate Authority till date.
He said the imposition of user fee here would result in the weaning away of passengers to other airports. The fee imposed in Delhi airport that had been developed on BOT concept was on a par with the rate proposed in the premier airport of the State that had been developed by the AAI using government funds. “There is no justification for collecting the user development fee from Thiruvananthapuram airport,” he said.
Collecting the user development fee from the passengers alone and avoiding the airline companies was not justifiable. The user development fee should be collected in all airports at uniform rates. If needed, senior citizens and students should be given concession. Options like charging more fee from those flying in First Class should be considered, Mr. Tharoor said.
The decision to collect the fee had been taken without considering the opinion of all concerned. The State had also not been able to put forward the facts and it had failed to take up the issue properly with the AERA The decision should be stayed and a final decision should be taken only after hearing all the concerned, he said.