Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Mumbai: Airport fee for flying abroad slashed

New Delhi: Come April and flying abroad from Mumbai will get marginally cheaper. The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) has ruled that the user development fee (UDF) for outbound international flyers will be Rs 171 from April 1 instead of the Rs 278 at present.

The tariff order by the B S Bhullar-headed AERA for the third control period — in force till March 31, 2024, or till the next order comes — of the Mumbai airport has decided to continue with having no UDF for domestic departing passengers.

The regulator rejected the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) plea to levy an ad hoc UDF of Rs 200 and Rs 500 for every domestic and international outbound passenger, respectively, till March 31, 2023, to tide over the Covid-19 crisis. It had in October sought this ad hoc charge to “ensure economic and viable operations of airport”.

The AERA order quotes a stakeholder’s request to determine tariff order keeping in mind “the financial health of all stakeholders — passengers, travellers etc — who come from different strata of the society as air travel is no more luxury but a necessity”.

The airport operator had on January 5, 2021, written to AERA seeking “cash support” on the grounds of “substantial shortfall of cash to meet operating expense, capex requirement and debt service obligations… interest and loan payment”. It had said that due to a rating downgrade “MIAL may not be able to obtain loans and has sought debt restructuring”. It estimated a shortfall of Rs 4,508 crore, which it wanted to partially tide over by raising Rs 1,396 crore from ad hoc UDF.

03/03/21 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India

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