Kochi airport defers decision on charging user fee

December 20th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Kochi, Dec 20 (IANS) The managers of Cochin airport have failed to decide if they should reintroduce an user charge on every passenger, Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said Saturday.The chief minister said a decision on this would be taken at the next meeting of the board of directors of Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), India’s first airport built in public-private partnership model.

CIAL used to charge a fee of Rs.500 till Dec 31, 2005, when its then chairman, chief minister Oommen Chandy, decided to cancel the fee following a series of protests from passengers.

Speaking to reporters after the annual general body meeting of CIAL here, Achuthanandan said there were contrasting opinions on this matter.

“One section wanted the user fee of Rs.500 to be reinstated, while another wanted the present situation to continue and yet another group wanted to charge Rs.250 per passenger as user fee. But finally we decided that this would be decided at the next director board meeting,” said Achuthanandan.

Achuthanandan, who is also the CIAL chairman, presided over Saturday’s meeting.

CIAL, the first airport outside the ambit of the Airports Authority of India, began operations in 1999 with 76 flights per week, and currently handles close to 450 flights per week. Twenty five airlines - both domestic and international - use the airport.

CIAL was formed as a public limited company with equity participation from Kerala government and non-resident Indians (NRIs), of which majority are based in the Middle East.

The meeting decided that 40 more check-in counters would be added, apart from a state-of-the-art storage facility for perishable goods that would be built at a cost of Rs.247.3 million in July next year. The 25,000 sq ft facility will be capable of handling 25,000 tonnes of perishables annually.

The meeting also decided that CIAL should be developed so it could become a hub of international aviation industry; as part of this plan, more aprons will be built.

A senior CIAL official told IANS on condition of anonymity that it was also decided that an aviation training centre would be started with the help of a leading university.

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