Friday, December 08, 2006

Traffic Congestion Surcharge - Skyway Robbery

Private airlines in India are contemplating adding Rs.150 to the ticket prices, to cover the cost of burning fuel while being made to circle over airports during peak traffic. They call it 'air traffic congestion surcharge'. At least a couple have already done so. It is a strange situation. It is not as if every incoming flight is made to hang out in the air, over every airport, in wait for a clear runway to land, at all hours. Civil aviation minister Praful Patel admits to traffic congestion, but only at Delhi and Mumbai airports, this too, only during peak hours.
I wonder how the airlines justify a uniform levy on every ticket sold, to every destination. It amounts to some air passengers paying for other people's flight delays. The very idea of a surcharge on passengers for delayed landings is not exactly being passenger-friendly. Far from being thankful to passengers for putting up with flight delays, for one reason or another, the airlines in India betray their supreme unconcern for customer sentiments. Airlines claim that it costs Rs. 2000 for every minute an aircraft is in air; taxiing on ground costs Rs. 560 a minute. Whatever the cost, why should passengers be made to pay for it.
Mr Patel, expressing total disagreement with it, is however reported to have ruled out action against the private airlines.
07/12/06 GV Krishnan/
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