Move to hike User Development Fee at Thiruvananthapuram airport unjustified, says Shashi Tharoor

Such decisions can have a negative effect on the airport’s development and require wider consultation with stakeholders, said Tharoor.
Thiruvananthapuram Airport
Thiruvananthapuram AirportFile Photo

KOCHI: With the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) approving the hike in rates of the User Development Fee at Thiruvananthapuram International Airport effective from July 1, 2024, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that the move is unjustified and will have a negative impact on the growth and development of the airport. 

On Wednesday, the MP wrote a letter to the Minister of Civil Aviation, Kinjarapu Rammohan Naidu, and the Director of the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority requesting to reconsider the decision and re-establishment of the Airport Advisory Committee, which has been inoperative for a while.

In his letter, Tharoor, who is the MP from Thiruvananthapuram, wrote, "Such decisions can have a negative effect on the airport’s growth and development and require wider consultation with stakeholders. When a private company provides a public service, it is all the more necessary to bear the public interest uppermost in mind."

"These unfortunate developments, which have taken place without any prior public consultation or discussion with stakeholders, come at a time when all of us supporting the development of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport are striving to increase passenger volume and aircraft flying in and out of the airport. There is no doubt the steep hike in costs will render Thiruvananthapuram airport a much less attractive option for both airlines and passengers, particularly given the considerably lower rates offered at the nearest competing Kochi airport," he wrote.

Thiruvananthapuram Airport
Thiruvananthapuram airport hikes user fee; will impact passenger traffic, say experts

In his letter, the MP also pointed out that the Airport Advisory Committee, which was supposed to be re-established under the chairmanship of the sitting MP, remains inoperative. "The ministry should also mandate the re-establishment of the Airport Advisory Committee without further delay to bring the views of stakeholders, including frequent travellers, tourism agencies, and public representatives into consideration," he wrote.

The MP requested to convene an urgent meeting with AERA, the airport operator, Adani Airport Private Limited, and principal stakeholders to have this decision reviewed and ideally reversed. 

The airport, operated by Adani Group, has increased UDF to Rs 770 from Rs 506 and Rs 1,540 from Rs 1,069 for domestic and international passengers, respectively. The new rates are applicable till March 2025. For FY26, the fee will be raised to Rs 840 in domestic and Rs 1,680 in international sectors, before a further jump to Rs 910 and Rs 1,820 in FY27. The fee is also being introduced for arriving traffic — Rs 330 for domestic and Rs 660 for international passengers.

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