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Your flight tickets will soon cost more. Heres' why

July 19, 2018 15:38 IST

The charges for security component of passenger service fees will not increase much and a passenger may have to bear an extra of Rs 50

You may have to shell out more for your next flight, as the government is mulling a proposal to increase security charge on air tickets.

Both private airport operators and state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) have demanded an increase in passenger service fees after the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) raised an alarm over unpaid dues from airport operators.

 

“We are considering a marginal increase in the security component of passenger service fees, after the airport operators submitted that with an exponential growth in passenger numbers, the current charges are not enough to bear the cost of security management at airports.

"The charges will not increase much and a passenger may have to bear an extra of Rs 50,” a senior civil aviation ministry official said.

The security charge of Rs 130 per passenger has not been revised for the last 10 years.

The passenger service fee, which is charged on air ticket, has two components. One is the facilitation charge - used for services such as baggage trolleys, escalators, travellators and air conditioning in terminal - and the other is security component, through which airport operators pay the CISF, which has been entrusted with the job to secure Indian airports.

Airlines deposit the security charges collected from passengers in the escrow account, from which it transfers the money to CISF.

Now, the CISF claims that there has been a huge delay in payment, while the operators are saying they do not have enough money to pay the security force.

“We guard critical facilities and installations such as airports, steel plants, atomic power plants across the country, for which we charge a fee.

"The service fee is supposed to be deposited by 10th of every month, which is then used by the Home Ministry to pay salaries and allowances to the personnel at those facilities. We have flagged the issue to the highest authority,” a senior CISF officer said.

The officer said that almost Rs 8 billion is due is from GMR-owned Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL).

The Union home secretary in the first week of this month wrote to the civil aviation ministry, saying the CISF will withdraw security to the country’s largest airport if the payment isn’t expedited, sources said.

Of the 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under the CISF. Among them 26 airports, including those in New Delhi and Mumbai, were in the hyper-sensitive category.

“With the exponential growth in passengers that Delhi and Mumbai have witnessed, the cost of maintaining security has increased manifold. Checkpoints have increased, the number of boarding gates has gone up. We need the money,” the official said.

Delhi airport, in its clarification, said that according to the privatisation agreement signed in 2006, the airport security should be the duty of the state and DIAL is working in a fiduciary capacity on a tariff that has not changed in the last 10 years.

“DIAL is meeting security-related expenses out of an escrow account according to guidelines issued by MoCA from time to time.

"With cost exceeding collection over the years, there is a deficit in PSF (security charge) account.

"DIAL Management had a meeting with CISF in the recent past and was apprised about the reasons for the deficit.

"We are coordinating with the government to make sure that the issue is addressed.”

Guruprasad Mohapatra, chairman, AAI, said, “There is a gap between the fees earned and the expenditure of about Rs 1 billion. The difference will vary from airport to airport. We have submitted to the government the need to hike the security fees.”

Photograph: Reuters

Arindam Majumder in New Delhi
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