As governments and organisations advise avoiding travel as precaution against the coronavirus pandemic, Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) of India wrote to the government seeking permission to levy extra charge on passengers so as to recover losses.
Association of Private Airport Operators (APAO) wrote to Pradeep Singh Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, that the decline in travel is “impacting airports adversely with no offset or compensatory stream available to them” as well as “severely impacting the cash flows for the airport operators”.
APAO proposed levying an extra charge on passengers as a part of airline fares to cover the increased cost and decreasing revenue with which airports are grappling.
The communication comes at a time the government has suspended all existing visas except diplomatic, official, UN/international organisations, employment, project visas till 15 April, increased checking at airports and advised citizens to avoid ‘non-essential’ travel. So far, 75 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed in India.
Airport Operators Facing ‘Severe Financial Crisis’
According to the letter, ACI World Airport Traffic Forecasts 2019-2040 projects a revenue loss due to the coronavirus pandemic of about $3 billion.
In order to address the growing severity of the issue and ensure sustainable operations for airport operators, APAO proposed a cooperation mechanism between airport operators and policy stakeholders to identify various options to tackle the crisis.
They requested permission to levy a “nominal passenger facilitation charge as part of airline fares to cover increased operating expenses being incurred by the operators”.
They further requested the provision of an airport operator alleviation package by AERA to facilitate the growing operational expenses, released in the next control period of applicable airport operators.
Consider Waiving Cancellation, Rescheduling Charges: DGCA
Meanwhile, aviation watchdog Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) asked international airlines to consider waiving ticket cancellation and rescheduling charges or to look at providing any other incentive amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"In light of hardship faced by passengers, airlines may like to consider and take an appropriate call, accordingly," the DGCA said in a circular dated 12 March, that has been addressed to all scheduled international airlines operating to and from India.
"In the current scenario, it would be appropriate if airlines support their passenger in this tough time by waiving off cancellation/reschedule charges or by providing any other incentive," it said.
(With inputs from PTI)