The government is mulling an increase in the passenger service fee (PSF) in order to pass on to air travellers a part of the cost of strengthening security at all airports.
As of now, air travellers pay Rs 130 as security charge. This is part of the Rs 225 charged as PSF by the airlines while selling the tickets. “The security charge has not been increased in the last 15 years. But now, the cost of providing security to airports has gone up manifold. In all likelihood, the amount will go up,” a government functionary said.
A series of high-level meetings have taken place on the issue of strengthening security at all Indian airports.
The meetings were attended by ministers of state for home Kiren Rijiju, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha, National Security Adviser Ajit Doval and other senior officials.
Now, the Union home ministry has been asked to find out the total cost of providing security to all 143 functional airports in the country, given the threats from terrorist attacks.
Similarly, the ministry of civil aviation has been asked to find out ways and means to recover the cost of security arrangements at airports and the home ministry will find out the total security for airports. Both the ministries are expected to finalise their reports in the next two months, said the functionary. The civil aviation ministry has maintained that since security is a sovereign function, the money should come from the consolidated fund of the government of India.
The finance ministry is said to have suggested that the burden should be passed on to air travellers. The home ministry disagreed with the finance ministry's suggestion, saying it might lead to air fare hike. No final decision has been taken on the issue so far.
Of the 98 functional airports in India, 59 are under Central Industrial Security Force cover.