Sunday, September 10, 2017

‘UDF’: Not quite the villain in the air

Kochi:  For many in the ruling front, the ‘UDF’ has always been a matter of serious concern - both ideologically and economically. For many flying out from the state, too, the ‘UDF’ has always been a bone of contention. Even Shashi Tharoor MP was fed up with the new ‘UDF’ policy! Surprised? Well, the UDF in question here is the User Development Fee being charged on passengers by airport operators. But, is the UDF - increased at the Trivandrum International Airport (TIA) from July 1 - really a villain? It seems not, even if there may be reasons for many to think otherwise.
For instance, C P Narayanan, the CPM MP, and Tharoor recently took this matter up with the Union Civil Aviation Minister following a huge uproar over the enhanced User Development Fee at the Thiruvananthapuram airport. Their response against the decision to increase the UDF by the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) came at a time when the Cochin International Airport Ltd - functioning under the PPP model - has not been charging any such fee of late.“I have taken this matter up with the Union Ministry as there have been reports this would affect the interests of passengers and airlines alike,” Narayanan told Express.
However, the Union Ministry clarified PPP airports like CIAL have other provisions to meet their revenue target by levying airlines, which is ultimately passed on to the passenger.
In the case of the TIA, the AERA has allowed the airport the levy and collection of UDF at Rs 450 per departing passenger at the domestic terminal and Rs 950 per passenger at the international terminal. The charges were increased to give a fair return on the investment made by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for developing and upgrading the airport.
10/09/17 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express