Airport operators seek to levy ‘corona surcharge’

Airport operators seek to levy 'corona surcharge' thumbnail
NEW DELHI: In a controversial move, private airport operators have sought levy of a corona surcharge to cover for the extra expenses being incurred by them on screening passengers amid a massive decline in air traffic — and hence their revenues from both aeronautical and non-aero streams — following the outbreak of the epidemic. The…

NEW DELHI: In a controversial move, private airport operators have sought levy of a corona surcharge to cover for the extra expenses being incurred by them on screening passengers amid a massive decline in air traffic — and hence their revenues from both aeronautical and non-aero streams — following the outbreak of the epidemic. The Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) represents the PPP airports at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad and Cochin, and greenfield airports coming up in Navi Mumbai and Mopa in Goa. However, International Air Transport Association (IATA) slammed this demand. “India’s private airports need to do a reality check on their suggestion to impose a new levy at a time when passenger demand is plummeting on account of the Covid-19 outbreak. What is needed now are relief measures to help the aviation industry, and eventually when the situation is resolved to look at ways to grow demand, instead of a self-serving interest in protecting profits without recognizing what is happening in the world around us. It is imperative that we focus on reducing the overall cost of travel and work collectively to identify mutual cost saving opportunities,” said Amitabh Khosla, IATA country director for India. Coronavirus outbreak: Complete coverage Given the large-scale cancellation of flights by airlines globally due to travel disruptions caused by Covid-19, the European Commission (EC) has temporarily suspended the 80/20 “use it or lose it” rule for airport slots till June 2020. Under this rule, if an airline doesn’t use 80% of slots allotted to it the airport operator may give them away to other carriers. Citing difficulties faced by Indian airport operators, Airport Council International (ACI) director-general Stefano Baronci wrote to aviation minister HS Puri on Friday seeking relief: “Reduce airport taxes on a per passenger basis … consider on a case-by-case basis to waive concession fees that the private airport operator has to [pay] to government.” Coronavirus outbreak live updatesIn his letter, Baronci requested “a more pondered approach with respect to the airlines’ proposal to waive the 80/20 rule for current winter and forthcoming summer season. We are sympathetic with the airlines’ needs to avoid flying empty airplanes simply to retain airport slots … this should not jeopardise connectivity of passengers.” The APAO has written to aviation secretary PS Kharola, seeking levy of “a nominal passenger facilitation charge as part of airline fares to cover increased operating expenses being incurred by the operators.” The ACI World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2019-2040 projects revenue loss of $3 billion globally due to Covid-19. While revenues are falling, “ensuring compliance with government advisories on screening of passengers has required airports to significantly beef up its manpower deployment at airports as well as make expenditure on various items like masks, sanitizers and floor cleaners,” Nayar’s letter said. “This is unlike airlines which have got one major compensatory stream in terms of significantly reduced (more than 50%) crude oil prices,” it said. More on Covid-19
Read More