Airport Economic Regulatory Authority decides to reduce UDF, will be effected only from September

A final decision was awaited from AERA following a public consultation organised by it on June 15 in the City in connection with its proposed reduction.

BENGALURU: It is now official that your air fare could get lighter. The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) has decided to stick by its proposal to slash the User Development Fee (UDF) to be collected from departing passengers at the Kempe Gowda International Airport.

The new charges will come into effect only from September 1 instead of August 1 as planned. Speaking to The New Indian Express from New Delhi, AERA Chairman S Machendranathan said, "We have decided on a substantial reduction in the present UDF that is being collected from passengers. The exact charges will be made public by us within a week. Due to some delays, we now plan to bring the new fee into effect only from September 1."

A final decision was awaited from AERA following a public consultation organised by it on June 15 in the City in connection with its proposed reduction. "We have gone through the responses received during the public consultation and are now finalising the aeronautical tariff to be collected," he said. While BIAL and the State government had opposed any kind of reduction, most other respondents had backed AERA's proposal.

Explaining the reasons for the massive tariff reduction it will be announcing, the Chairman said that the revised UDF had to be announced over two years ago so that it could be effected during the five-year control period (2) from April 2016 to March 2021. However, it had not been done earlier. "BIAL has already collected the existing tariff at the airport since 2016 though the Control period One (from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2016) ended. We are taking this aspect into consideration into account when fixing the new tariff and so have decided on a major cut in UDF.

"AERA had on May 29 proposed a fee slash (upto March 21, 2019) of Rs 316.76 for international passengers from the Rs 1226 being paid presently (see box) For departing domestic passengers, it had suggested Rs 79.19, down from Rs 306 paid now. This excludes tax. It had suggested a slight increase from this amount for next two financial years. The initial deadline to implement the new UDF was planned for July 1, it was postponed to August 1 and has now been finalised as September 1.

Explaining the rationale behind such a fee on passengers, Machendranath said that when an airport is not able to meet its operating expenses despite collecting aircraft landing charges, baggage handling charges and other fees, it is permitted to collect additional charges from passengers to mop up its revenue. The Chairman added that the UDF could go higher in the third control period (April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2026) as BIAL would have invested in upgrading its infrastructure by then. A BIAL spokesperson declined to comment on the issue. UDF per passenger: Existing tariff BIAL proposed rates July 1-March 21, 2019; April 1, 2019 -Mar 21,2020; April 1, 2020-Mar 31, 2021Intl: Rs 1226 Rs 316.76 Rs 373.68 Rs 416.22 Natl: Rs 306 Rs 79.19 Rs 93.42 Rs 104.06.

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