Patel defends decision to levy airport surcharge on passengers

February 26th, 2009 - 7:33 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS) Defending the government’s decision to levy surcharge on passengers at the Delhi airport, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel Thursday said “airports of certain scale” being developed by the Airports Authority of India could also do the same.
“This should be taken in the right spirit. What’s wrong if the government has taken this step?” he told reporters on the sidelines of the inauguration of a new departure terminal (1D) at the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here.

The government announced Monday that Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), which runs the Delhi airport, would charge Rs.200 on domestic passengers and Rs.1,300 on international passengers from March 1 due to the company’s inability to raise money from lenders and the market.

Earlier, the International Air Transport Association (AITA) expressed concern on levying such charges on air passengers.

Patel said airports of “certain scale”, being developed by the AAI at Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram and other locations could also levy a similar charge on passengers.

“The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) - the new regulator for airlines - will look into the matter,” he added.

Terming aviation as India’s “sunrise sector”, Patel assured Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who was also present on the occasion, that his department would do everything to lift Delhi Airport to the levels of the best airports in the world.

G.M. Rao, chairman of GMR group, which owns DIAL, said the new departure terminal was not part of the contractual agreement GMR had signed with the government. But the company developed 1D considering the problems faced by the passengers, he said.

The new terminal, set up at an investment of Rs.5 billion (Rs.500 crore), will be capable of handling all outbound domestic passengers.

However, 1D will be opened for passengers only by first week of April.

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