AAI seeks recall of free parking to smaller aircrafts

The AAI has written to the Civil Aviation Ministry that the waiver on landing and parking charges, offered to airlines operating aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of less than 80 passengers, be done away with, according to sources.
The sources claimed that the exemption was being misused by airlines, which were flying small planes to airports where AAI had invested large amounts on infrastructure to make operations of larger aircrafts possible.

In this context, they gave examples of airports in cities like Vadodara where infrastructure for large aircraft operations existed but most airlines chose to fly smaller planes to avoid paying these fees.

The sources felt that this exemption was "distorting the economics of flying".
In return, the AAI has suggested that the Government could consider providing fiscal incentives to small aircrafts for operations to those airports which did not have facilities to handle larger aircraft, they said.

The AAI would be able to increase its revenues by about Rs 20 crore every year if the government accepts the proposal, the sources said.

The issue is likely to come up before the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) as it has been tasked to ensure that these charges, as well as the development fees imposed on passengers at major airports, were remunerative enough for the airport operators.

In a bid to encourage air travel from the interior parts of the country, the erstwhile NDA government had in February 2004 exempted domestic scheduled airlines operating small aircraft like turbo-props from paying landing and other charges. Helicopter operations were also exempted from paying these charges.

The airline industry, however, has been opposing the high-parking, landing and navigation charges being imposed for larger aircraft which they fly more.
Major domestic airlines owe Rs 277.55 crore as user charges to the AAI till October last year.

The major aeronautical services provided by AAI for which users are charged include route navigation facilities, terminal navigation facilities, landing, housing and parking of aircraft besides paying rent for the space occupied.

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