A move to levy user fee from foreign-bound passengers at the international airport here has sparked strong protests from different sections, including travel and tourism industry here.
They were reacting to reports of the Airport Economic Regulatory Autority accepting the request of Airport Authority of India for levying User Development Fee at the rate of Rs 775 per outbound foreign passenger to make up the cost overrun of the construction of the new terminal.
Resenting the proposal, local MP and former Union Minister Shashi Tharoor said this could not be justified as the airport was in public sector and not a private or joint sector one.
"They say the user fee is being imposed to meet up the cost over run. But this is not a private airport. Nor was it built on the BOT mode ", Tharoor told reporters after a visit to the new terminal, getting completed.
Kerala Association of Travel Agents (KATA), meanwhile, said it was a great injustice to impose such a heavy burden on foregin passengers from here as more than 70 per cent of them constituted people working in the Gulf countries.
"The rate proposed by the regulator is higher than the fee levied in Mumbai airport", KATA President KV Muraleedharan said.
The user fee was proposed on the ground that the cost of new terminal had escalated to Rs 289 crore against the initial
estimate of Rs 245 crore. It was proposed to be levied for 10 years from the day of inauguration of the terminal.
This would mean the actual amount to be exacted from the passengers would be much more than the cost overrun, KATA said.