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Flying from Pune likely to become a pricey affair

Many passengers have stated that with expansion of the existing airport at Lohegaon yet to be completed, this increase in ticket rates without providing any additional facilities is uncalled for.

pune Updated: Dec 12, 2017 15:43 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
airport,pune,lohegaon
Recently, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had proposed an increase in the aeronautical tariff at various airports, including Pune. (HT Photo)

Passengers at the Pune Airport are unhappy with the rise in ticket fares after the implementation of the newly introduced User Development Fee.

Also, with airlines having to shell out more money for aircraft loading and parking at the Lohegaon airport, passengers are speculating further increase in the cost of flying in the coming few months. Many passengers have stated that with expansion of the existing airport at Lohegaon yet to be completed, this increase in ticket rates without providing any additional facilities is uncalled for.

Recently, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had proposed an increase in the aeronautical tariff at various airports, including Pune. According to officials, this demand for increase in aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges has received an approval from the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA). Owing to this, passengers are apprehending a rise in cost of flying in the coming months.

Sources at the Pune Airport said that the aeronautical charges are levied by the AAI on airlines and aircraft operators for servicesor facilities like aircraft parking and housing, ground handling services, fuelthroughput charges and cargo. While revenue from the non-aeronautical charges is the main contributor to an airport, thisrevenue is generated by an airport by letting out its surplus space for restaurants and snack bars, stalls for passenger requisites, duty free shops, hoardings and advertisements, land leases, non-residential buildings, hangars, car parking, flightcatering services and other such services. AAI earned a revenue of Rs.24.2 crore inthe year 2015-16 from the above services at Pune Airport.

The AERA determines the tariffs every five years –called as control period, for the major airports on the tariff proposals made by AAIand after taking into consideration their expenditure, funds required for upgradingthe airport infrastructure, quality of services provided, air traffic growth and viewpointsof all stake holders. Accordingly, AERA recently finalised the tariff to be levied at the civil enclave of Pune Airport for theperiod from December 1, 2017 to March 31, 2021.

The director general of civil aviation directed that these charges will come intoeffect at the Pune Airport from December 1, 2017. This has resulted in the aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges at Pune going up from December 1. According to officials, for domestic flyers, passenger security tariff of Rs.130 and a user development fee (UDF) of Rs.350 would be levied.

For international flyers, a UDF of Rs.700 would be levied. Similarly, parking charges of airlines with respect to their metric tonne of weight have also been increased.

When contacted, Pune Airport director Ajay Kumar said, "The airfare for all airlines has always been decided dynamically based on demand. The increase in charges levied on the airlines is not likely to burden the passengers. Even today, if passengers want to book a ticket to Delhi three months in advance, they are getting it at the cost of a two tier railway ticket and hence, passengers should not fear of rising ticket charges."

When contacted, aviation analyst and expert Dhairyashil Vandekar said,“The increase in the aeronautical and non-aeronautical charges will result in makingPune Airport expensive for travel and flight operations. The airlines will have to workassiduously on pricing to keep their fares attractive and competitive. The hike intariff will impact the budget travellers and tourists, leisure travel, family or groupsespecially on the shorter sectors like Goa, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and so on that have a flyingtime of less than 75 minutes.”

Vandekar further added, “These are the sectors which often offer very lowcompetitive fares and had succeeded in attracting passengers from other modes oftransport like railways. However, going by the profile of the bulk travellers, thegrowth and demand for air travel at Pune with this hike will not have a major impacton the traffic except affecting a small market segment of the low cost carriers.”

He added that the increase in tariff must also come with a guarantee of performance on the part ofthe AAI for ensuring assured quality service for the passengers. “The government andthe regulators must define and set quality standards for service being delivered at theairports and make the airport operators accountable for it. The regulators likeAERA must monitor the development and expansion work for which the tariff hasbeen increased and ensure these projects do not drag on burdening the passengers,” he added.