Decision taken as it will be a month before full-fledged departure operations start at new terminal

Air passengers can heave a sigh of relief as the levy of a user development fee (UDF) at the new international terminal of Chennai airport has been deferred by a month.

Officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) said the decision had been taken as it would be a month before full-fledged departure operations took place at the new terminal.

At present, only eight airlines including IndiGo, SpiceJet and Air Austral operate from the new international terminal, and it will take a while for the other airlines to shift, said an AAI official.

“Airlines are facing a few problems in moving to the new terminal. It may take some time for them to relocate. Only once this is done, will we take a call on the levying of UDF,” he said.

The fee however, is being levied at the new domestic terminal.

In February, UDF rates for Chennai airport were decided by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), at Rs. 166 for domestic passengers and Rs. 667 for international ones. Compared to the UDF rates in other cities, this may not be very high, but an AAI official said the quality of facilities offered at the new international terminal was also unlikely to be superior to those of other cities.

In July, when a trial run of the new international terminal was conducted, passengers complained of poorly-maintained toilets. D. Sudhakar Reddy of the Air Passengers Association of India said, “I don’t understand why the AERA fixed the rates for Chennai airport much ahead of its commissioning and without even looking at the facilities available. It may be low when compared to the other airports, but so are the services rendered.”

While the new domestic terminal was commissioned in April, the international was launched only in August although both terminals were inaugurated in January.

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