Domestic air travel likely to get costlier as parliamentary panel recommends passenger service fee be increased

Panel has suggested the price hike in order to generate more revenue for clearing pending security dues running into crores of rupees.

Published: 07th March 2019 11:29 PM  |   Last Updated: 07th March 2019 11:29 PM   |  A+A-

airport, flight, aeroplane

For representational purposes (File | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Flying to destinations within the country could soon get costlier as a government panel has recommended that the passenger service fee (PSF) levied on domestic flyers be increased in order to generate more revenue for clearing pending security dues running into crores of rupees.

CISF Director General (DG) Rajesh Ranjan, while interacting with reporters during the annual press conference, said the "PSF issue is at an fairly advanced stage and we hope to see some decision in that regard very soon".

The DG said around 56 airports -- six in the private joint venture domain and the rest operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) -- in the country have "outstanding" dues for taking the services of the force to guard their civil airport facilities.

The Additional DG and chief of airport security operations of the force, M A Ganapathy, said the dues were stuck mainly due to the issue of shortfall in collection of the PSF.

"These are not very static kind of dues. Payment keeps happening over a period of time. One argument of the AAI and the private operators is that they collect a cess from all the passengers that is called the PSF.

"There is a shortfall in PSF which they collect from the passengers," Ganapathy said.

The ADG added that the government has formed a committee of senior officers to "have a re-look at the exact amount of PSF which has to be collected from the passengers and there is a recommendation that there has to be a marginal increase of around Rs 20 for domestic passengers".

"Once it happens, whenever it is implemented, all these dues will get cleared. I don't think there will be any outstanding and it is pending this decision (of enhancement of PSF)," Ganapathy said.

Around Rs 130 is levied as PSF on each domestic air traveller at present and the passenger pays this amount as part of his total bill for booking a seat in a commercial airliner.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), a paramilitary force under the Union Home Ministry, is tasked with guarding 61 airports of the country at present and the government has said in the past that all the about 100 airports of the country will be gradually brought under its anti-terror armed cover soon.

The force has deployed about 35,000 personnel to guard these airports as part of its Aviation Security Group (ASG).

DG Ranjan added: "It is heartening thing that it (dues) is now in the process of being cleared up.

There was a point where it was kind of a standstill, but now they have started clearing up.

"The money flow has not stopped, so the dues are being cleared. There are outstanding dues and it will take some time before it clears hundred per cent."

The two senior CISF officers refrained from giving out the exact amount of pending security dues, but sources indicated that currently about Rs 600 crore is due to the CISF by about 56 airport operators.

The DG was also asked about the security amount dues at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport, operated by the DIAL, to which he replied that "it was being cleared up".

Ranjan said the CISF has taken up this issue not only with the airport operators but also with the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Home Ministry.

The DG said the force has "reoriented" its techniques to intercept cases of drugs, gold and smuggling through the airports under its cover.

He said the force has got the Civil Aviation Ministry's "approval" to take over security of the three airports of Jammu, Srinagar and Leh in Jammu and Kashmir and the next stage is to get a similar sanction from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).

"The approval from the MHA is at a fairly advance stage and we hope it will happen very soon," the DG said.

Out of the 98 functional airports in the country, 61 are under the CISF cover.

Among these, 26 airports, including the ones in New Delhi and Mumbai, are in the hyper-sensitive category.

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