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‘Put passenger comfort before profit’

A parliamentary panel says pvt operators are setting up commercial activities in airports at the expense of passenger amenities, reports Nagendar Sharma.

delhi Updated: Apr 19, 2008 04:27 IST
Nagendar Sharma

Private operators are setting up commercial activities in airports at the expense of passenger amenities, a parliamentary committee has said, calling for strict governmental regulation.

The committee said the operators developing and modernising the airports should be under an obligation to provide passengers amenities such as toilets, seating areas and restaurants.

“Already the passenger space has shrunk considerably at Delhi and Mumbai airports to make way for commercial activities of the airport developers. The committee wants such practices to be stopped immediately and operators’ ground activities to be regulated,” chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport and Tourism Sitaram Yechury said.

Private firms are modernising and managing airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kochi after the sector was opened up in 2006. A 2007 bill proposes regulation of all flight-related functions — ranging from tariffs to slot-allocations for various airlines — by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority.

Calling for a widened scope for the regulator, Yechury said: “The proposed Authority is confined only to the aeronautical services, which form only a small part of the revenue earnings of the operators. The ground activities, which form a large chunk of the earnings, have been left unregulated.”

The proposed regulatory authority should be given powers to direct the operating airlines to ensure proper space for security and check-in counters, the committee said. Stressing the importance of facilities for passengers at all airports in the country, the committee has asked the government to “create a level playing field and foster healthy competition among the major airports to encourage investment in airport facilities and monitor performance standards of airports”.

The parliamentary committee has also asked the government to bring services ranging from development of airport lounges to construction of parking lots under the proposed regulatory authority’s purview.