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Air passengers fume at new surcharge

The proposed Rs 150 air traffic congestion charge evokes sharp criticism, reports Lalatendu Mishra.

india Updated: Dec 02, 2006 03:15 IST

The Rs 150 air traffic congestion surcharge being levied by some airlines to upset the losses incurred on fuel burn while circling over airports has evoked sharp criticism from air passengers.

Terming this as ridiculous, the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) is exploring possibility to challenge the decision by filing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

Speaking to HT, APAI president Sudhakar Reddy said, "How are the passengers responsible for the congestion and why should they be penalised for no fault of theirs? After the formation of the Federation of Indian Airlines, we had doubts on their motives and the new surcharge has now confirmed it. It is a result of cartelisation. I will be consulting my lawyer whether this makes a fit case for a PIL."

However, airlines have justified the new surcharge. Air Deccan Finance Director Mohan Kumar said, "We are still debating on the surcharge and will take a decision in two days. The surcharge is justified, as airlines can't continue to bleed for no fault of theirs.

What do we do which is not under our control? By levying the surcharge airlines are telling the truth that something need to be done to improve infrastructure."

While asking airlines to reconsider their decision APAI has blamed the Union Civil Aviation ministry (read Praful Patel) for the congestion. "Licences should not have been issued to so many players without improving airport infrastructure. This is the outcome of the mindless act and now passengers are being taken for granted," Reddy added.

Even as the debate goes on, airlines said that every minute of waiting on air costs an A-320 aircraft Rs 2,000 on fuel burn and passengers to avail the facility need to pay for it.

If passengers are unhappy they should pressurise the government to immediately improve airport infrastructure. But air passengers feel that since airlines will not share their profits with them, the losses should be solely borne by the airlines themselves.

First Published: Dec 01, 2006 22:53 IST