Delhi Airport: World’s Most Expensive?


Thanks to the new user development fee (UDF), passengers will now have to shell out extra bucks

For passengers flying to and from Delhi frequently, Doomsday is fast approaching. For, come May 15, both domestic and international passengers will have to shell out extra money in the form of a new user development fee (UDF). What’s more, the government has also allowed Delhi airport to hike landing-parking charges levied on airlines by 346 percent. In simple terms, this means that fliers departing from and arriving to the IGI airport will have to shell out an extra Rs 436 – Rs 1,068 for international flights and Rs 195 – Rs 462 for domestic ones.

Naturally, the airline industry has protested this move, because it is already in choppy waters now, what with having to deal with high costs and low yields. Their problems are set to get worse when the massive fee hike takes effect. Airlines officials point out that the latest increase will not only put additional burden on the passengers but could also force airlines to reconsider their operations here, and possibly even withdraw from the market.

The Indira Gandhi International (IGI) is operated by Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL). While the group has done a great job of improving infrastructure, it had also asked for a 774 percent increase in charges- the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) settled on 346 percent. A 774 percent hike would mean an increase of Rs 700 to 800 per passenger and AERA’s suggestion would amount to Rs 350-450- either way, it would make the IGI airport, the most expensive in the world.

A passenger will have to shell out at least Rs 1,153 on account of the UDF for a Delhi-Mumbai round trip, and Rs 3,849 on a Delhi-London return trip. This, say experts, will hinder IGI’s goal of becoming a hub like Dubai or Singapore. Many low budget carriers are also apprehensive, as this might mean they might have to stop operating out of the capital. Importantly, the move will affect cost-conscious Indian passengers who’re already reeling from the effects of inflation. Mohit Ghai, investment banking specialist from NIIT Tech, said, “This price hike seems rather unfair, especially in keeping with the facilities provided by other airports in the Asia-Pacific region. The clearance time for passengers in airports like the Singapore Changi Airport is a lot more convenient than in Delhi. So, if we have to pay the UDF, it should be used wisely to make the airport the best in Asia.”

Dhawal Kharbanda, United Breweries Limited said, “With infrastructure facilities in the capital changing rapidly and Delhi playing host to most business, political and International activities, indicating strong economic growth, yes we deserve an airport which has the best to offer to the traveller. I don’t know if it has to be the most expensive but definitely the best.’’

However, Guneshwari Philem, business development manager, Travel Chacha, is not so hopeful. “While Terminal 3 is pretty amazing, the high taxes on tickets will totally work against it. It’s a lose-lose situation for passengers and airlines.”

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