Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Friday approved the levy of Development Fee (DF) by Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mumbai.

The DF will be Rs. 100 per passenger flying out on domestic network from the airport in Mumbai, while it will be Rs. 600 per international passenger. The DF will be levied on an ad hoc basis for four years from April 1, 2009.

With this, the Mumbai airport becomes the fourth in the country to be allowed to levy a development fee from passengers to bridge the shortfall in funds for modernising the facility.

The Mumbai airport modernisation project cost is pegged at Rs. 9,802 crore and the MIAL has been allowed to raise up to Rs. 1,543 crore through the development fee. However, if the project cost escalates beyond Rs. 9,802 crore, MIAL would have to tap other sources.

New airports in Hyderabad and Bangalore have been charging a development fee and DIAL, which manages the New Delhi airport, too was allowed to charge the fee, although the move has come in for criticism from global airlines’ body, the International Air Transport Association.

According to Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, such fees could be imposed even at airports being modernised by the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI). The massive aviation infrastructure required in India could not be set up on such a scale without contributions from passengers and other stakeholders, the Minister said.

The government had earlier approved levying DF from passengers flying out of the Delhi airport, with effect from March 1, at the rate of Rs. 200 per domestic passenger and Rs. 1,300 per passenger travelling abroad.

An independent auditor appointed by the AAI will audit the receipts from the fee. MIAL had proposed a levy of Rs.375 per domestic passenger and Rs.1,000 per international passenger flying out of Mumbai airport as development fee.