INDIA'S Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has approved a raft of fee hikes impacting both airlines and passengers at Mumbai and Kolkata's international airports, a move akin to shooting itself in the foot say trade players.
At Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, fees will rise 154 per cent across the board. Domestic airlines can expect to pay 40 per cent more while international carriers will have to shell out 120 per cent more.
Passengers are not spared. Since February 1, passengers have to factor in the new user development fees in addition to a current airport development fee. Passengers on international flights now have to pay Rs692 (US$13) on top of an airport development fee of Rs600. Those on domestic flights will have to fork out an additional Rs346, on top of a Rs100 airport development fee.
Slight relief will come between April 1 this year and March 31, 2014 when the new user development fees are reduced to Rs274 on domestic tickets and Rs548 on international tickets.
Meanwhile, AERA has also approved a hike in user development fees at Kolkata’s Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport. With effect from February 16, domestic and international fliers will pay Rs400 and Rs1,000 respectively. This fee will creep up to Rs424 and Rs1,060 from April 1, 2014 and again to Rs449 and Rs1,124 a year later.
AERA based its revised tariffs on air traffic projections for the next four years. It expects a 10 per cent annual growth at the Kolkata airport until 2015/2016.
Industry players were dismayed by the news.
“We are concerned that Indian airports are emerging as the most expensive in the world. How will it be possible for airlines to create hubs here?” said Tom Wright, chairman, British business group, Cathay Pacific Airways.
Rajendra Churiwala, director - eastern region, IATA Agents Association of India, observed: “The pressure on travel consultants is immense as clients demand cheaper airfares…Such high increases (in airport fees) will be counter productive.”
Delhi International Airport raised charges by 346 per cent in 4Q2012, only to have the Indian government order a return to previous rates on January 1, following an outcry from the both passengers and aviation players.