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Cost of air tickets may go up as govt mulls hike in passenger service fee

NEW DELHI: The passenger service fee (PSF), paid by air travellers, is likely to go up marginally as the government is mulling increasing the security and facilitation charges.

This may happen as a high-level meeting, attended by Union ministers of state for home and civil aviation Kiren Rijiju and Jayant Sinha respectively and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, asked the ministry of civil aviation to find out ways and means to recover the cost of security arrangements at airports.

The home ministry has also been told to find out what will be the total annual cost of providing security at 143 functional airports in the country, a government functionary said.

The reports from the two ministries are expected to come within two months and then a decision will be taken to increase the PSF.

Each air passenger in India has to pay Rs 130 as security charge and it is part of the Rs 225 being charged as PSF by the airlines while selling the tickets.

The security charge of Rs 130 has not been increased in last 15 years and now, since the cost of providing security to airports has gone up manifold, there is all likelihood that the amount will go up, the functionary said.

Currently, there is no unanimity on who will foot the Rs 800 crore bill raised by the home ministry for providing CISF security at airports across the country.

While the civil aviation ministry argued that since security is a sovereign function, the money should come from the consolidated fund of the Government of India, the finance ministry is said to have suggested that the burden should be passed on to the air travellers.

The home ministry disagreed with the finance ministry’s suggestion, contending it would lead to hike in air fare.

Out of the 98 functional airports in the country, 59 are under the Central Industrial Security Force cover. Among them, 26 airports, including those in New Delhi and Mumbai, are in the hyper-sensitive category.

Of these hyper-sensitive airports, 18 are under the CISF cover, while six like Srinagar and Imphal are being guarded by the CRPF, the state police or other paramilitary forces.

Under the sensitive category, there are 56 airports out of which only 37 are under the CISF cover.

The list of airports has gone up to 143 with the inclusion of 45 small airports after the launch of regional connectivity scheme, named ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ (Udan).

‘Udan’ is considered to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project as he wants to ensure that more people fly even from small cities.

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