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Government may shoot down airport user fee

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AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: A view of the terminal building at the Bangalore International Airport in Devanahalli.
AHEAD OF SCHEDULE: A view of the terminal building at the Bangalore International Airport in Devanahalli.

Staff Reporter

BIAL has proposed to levy Rs. 675 on domestic travellers

BANGALORE: The State Government has expressed its reservation over the proposal to levy user development charges on the outbound domestic and international travellers using the Bangalore International Airport at Devanahalli even as BIAL has proposed to levy Rs. 675 and Rs. 955 on domestic and international travellers respectively.

V.P. Baligar, Principal Secretary, Department of Infrastructure, told The Hindu that the State Government has told BIAL that the user development fee it proposed was on a higher side and needed to be reduced.

“We have requested the BIAL to rework the cost factor. Passengers should not be burdened with higher user cost and at the same time, the airport requires revenue to maintain international quality,” Mr. Baligar said.

Invoking the provisions in the concession agreement, BIAL has proposed to levy user development fee and the proposal was pending before the Union Civil Aviation Ministry.

Sources said the concession agreement did not provide for the price band within which the user development fee could be levied.

Rising numbers

The Bangalore airport recorded more than 3.95 lakh outbound domestic travellers and 1.56 lakh outbound international travellers in November alone, and the number is expected to increase when the Devanahalli airport becomes operational.

Mr. Baligar said the State Government had not indicated any specific figure to the BIAL and that the Civil Aviation Ministry wanted BIAL to reduce the user fee. In fact, the BIAL board was informed about such a proposal being sent to the Union Civil Aviation Ministry during a meeting held recently. While such decisions are taken by the Civil AviationMinistry, the proposed Airports Regulatory Authority expected to come up in a couple of years would decide on these issues in future, he added.

Meanwhile, a statement from the BIAL said: “Yes, the User Development Fee has always been a part of the concession agreement. However, this matter is under discussion and we will keep you informed about it.”

According to BIAL sources, the concession agreement provides the BIAL with rights to levy the user development fee, and it had exercised the power by placing the proposal before the Union Civil Aviation Ministry.

No fee in Hyderabad

In contrast with the BIAL, a check with the authorities in the another green field airport coming up in Hyderabad revealed that similar user fee is not likely to be introduced.

According to sources in the GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd, no such fee has been proposed before the Civil Aviation Ministry so far although the airport is scheduled to begin commercial operations from March 16, 2008, a fortnight before the launch of Bangalore airport. “We might go ahead with even zero user fee,” a company source said.

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