NEW DELHI: Flying out of the national capital could soon cost more with Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) planning to impose a new charge on passengers to survive the Covid-induced downturn in travel. DIAL has sought regulatory nod to charge Rs 200 and Rs 300 from each domestic and international outbound passenger, respectively. It has asked Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) to allow this till March 2024.
Separately, DIAL had last week petitioned the aviation ministry to “direct” AERA to factor in the Covid impact on its revenue while determining the airport’s tariffs, failing which it had warned of a “serious cash-flow deficit situation”, which would make it “difficult to continue airport operations”.
Comments from DIAL were sought and awaited till the time of going to press.
As first reported by TOI earlier, Mumbai Airport’s plea to charge Rs 200 and Rs 500 from every departing domestic and international passenger, respectively, as ad hoc user development fee (UDF) is already under AERA’s consideration. The state-run Airports Authority of India and PPP airports of Hyderabad and Kochi have said they are not seeking any interim charge as of now to mitigate Covid’s devastating impact on aviation.
The DIAL management wrote to the Union civil aviation ministry last Tuesday, saying it anticipates a shortfall or loss of Rs 3,538 crore from April 2020 to March 2024. It informed the government of suffering a cash loss of Rs 419 crore in April-September 2020 (H1) and projected a loss of Rs 939 crore in the Covid-ravaged FY 2020-21. The airport, which saw 7 crore passengers in FY 2019-20 and expects less than 2 crore this fiscal, has projected that losses like these will continue till FY 2024.
“Viability gap support of Rs 3,538 crore will be required for third control period (till FY 2024) to maintain operations, service levels, safety and security of the airport… the (declining) traffic scenario has taken a toll on DIAL’s financial position and put forth a challenge for sustainable operations. The current situation is very devastating… In case, AERA does not consider our request of viability gap, DIAL will end up in serious cash flow deficit situation finding itself difficult to continue the airport operations (sic),” DIAL CEO V K Jaipuriar wrote to aviation secretary P S Kharola last Tuesday.
Travel, both international and domestic, was among the first casualties of the Covid pandemic. The impact on number of overall passengers — and revenues for aviation stakeholders like airlines, airports, flight caterers and ground handlers — has been crushing.
Due to this, Mumbai airport has deferred capital expenditure of about Rs 3,000 crore. DIAL has slowed down expansion work at Terminal 1 to defer the June 2022 completion date by a year.