India’s airports economic regulator has knocked off the user development fee (UDF) for domestic fliers and nearly halved it for international travellers from Mumbai.
So, people wanting to go for a vacation during the Diwali holidays may want to rejoice at the slashed fares but should exercise caution, because the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) order has permitted the city airport to hike certain other charges collected from airlines which might eventually be passed on to passengers from November 1.
Domestic passengers from Mumbai who currently pay a UDF of Rs 274 will not be charged till 2019. For those travelling aboard, the fee will come down from Rs 548 to Rs 227. The charge for financial year 2018 is Rs 218 and Rs 278 for the subsequent year, said the AERA order that decided on the airport’s tariff card for the next five years.
But a hike in other charges that the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) collects from airlines might pinch fliers in the long run.
Touchdown charges for single aisle aircraft such as the Airbus A320, for instance, has been doubled, said the order. Such planes make for majority of the aircraft fleet used for domestic airlines operations in the country. “Doing away with UDF is a passenger-friendly move but hikes on parking and landing charges will definitely have a bearing on airfares,” said a member of the Civil Aviation Economic Advisory Council (a government appointed independent watchdog for economic policies on aviation) who did not wish to be named.
Similarly charges of using automated boarding card dispensing kiosks, passenger boarding bridges, refuelling and other saw hikes, the order stated. “Airlines have been offering fat discounts because fuel prices are low. But such hikes might rob passengers of the benefit,” said a Colaba-based travel agent requesting anonymity.
For instance, the order stated stiff penalties for private jets overstaying their stipulated time. Parking space is a precious commodity in the land-locked airport. For instance, an Airbus A319 private jet will be charged Rs 15,000 per hour for exceeding its permitted parking time.