Trunk routes fliers to pay for subsidized travel

New Delhi: On October 21, the Union government had unveiled a scheme known as UDAN – Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik — or helping the average Indian fly to increase air connectivity between small towns and boost tourism. The plan is aimed at making unused or under-utilised airports profitable by making them fare-attractive by keeping ticket prices minimum and taxes low. By doing so, the government wants to levy additional tax on passengers and airlines flying profitable or trunk routes.

Now, the Central government has decided to levy up to Rs 8,500 per flight on major routes to fund the scheme. Since the amount charged is per flight, the ticket price will go up according to the number of passengers a flight carries.

According to Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey, the levy would be up to Rs 8,500 per flight depending on distance. For example, the levy for an up to 1,000 km length of scheduled flight will be Rs 7,500 per flight; Rs 8,000 for a 1,000 – 1,500 km and Rs 8,500 for flights above 1,500 km.

He told media persons on Friday that the Aviation Ministry would impose a levy on every flight leaving major airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Kolkata.

For UDAN, the government would set up a Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF). The government is expected to mop up about Rs 400 crores for RCF through the levy. “In addition to this, another 20 per cent (funding) will come from state governments. We are roughly looking at around Rs 500 crore per year available in the kitty,” Choubey said.

The new levy will add to the present airfare structure as airlines are bound to pass on the burden to travelers.

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