User development fee to be levied on passengers at Chennai airport from March 1

The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has announced the levying of user development fee (UDF) for Chennai airport from March 1.

The regulatory agency said while Rs. 166 will be levied on passengers using the domestic sector, Rs. 667 will be charged for those travelling in the international sector.

With the inauguration of swanky new terminals on par with international standards, the UDF has been introduced in Chennai, say airport sources. They added that Chennai is the only city where the UDF is a nominal amount, especially compared to cities like Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.

Chennai Airport Director H.S. Suresh saidthat, on average 23,300 passengers travelled in the domestic sector at the Chennai airport every day. With the UDF coming into effect, the per-day revenue at the Chennai airport would be nearly Rs. 40 lakh and it would be Rs. 146 crore per year. In the international sector, a total of 12, 238 passengers travelled from Chennai airport and the revenue would be Rs. 81 lakh per day and it would be nearly Rs. 300 crore in a year.

Mr. Suresh said the UDF was needed mainly to recover the expenditure incurred by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in the construction of new domestic and international terminals at Chennai. Levying the fee was also essential to maintain the newly built terminals, he added.

Apart from introducing UDF, the AERA had also announced the increasing of landing and parking charges at the Chennai airport. This too comes into effect from March 1. According to airport sources, the existing landing and parking charges for a Boeing 747 aircraft is Rs. 1.20 lakh for landing. It would be allowed a free period of parking for an hour. Beyond that Rs. 10,000 is charged by the AAI for every hour. For an Airbus A-320, the charges would be Rs. 40,000 for landing and Rs. 7,000 for parking per hour. For a Bombardier Q-400, there is no landing charge and the parking charge is Rs. 3,000 per hour.

Reacting to the levy of UDF, D. Sudhakar Reddy, national president, Air Passengers Association of India (APAI), said: “This move will be a great burden on passengers. Even if the new terminals become operational by March 1, not all the facilities are going to be there in place there. So why should passengers pay more?”

Flyers are greatly disappointed with the move. M. Kannan, 44, a frequent flyer, said, “I’m ready to pay the road toll because the burden of my travel to another city is reduced greatly because of better roads and flyovers. But we cannot look forward to anything with this fee. It is unfair to burden passengers this way.”

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