Kerala seeks lower airfare, airlines want ATF tax cut

Senior officials of civil aviation ministry, state government and directors of all airports in the state attended the meeting.

Thiruvananthapuram: The state government has urged the airlines to curb the steep increase in the airfare in the Kerala–Gulf sector during festival and vacation seasons by operating additional flights.

At a meeting of all major airlines convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan here on Monday, the airlines also urged the state to bring down the tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF).

The meeting also discussed the scope of enhancing regional connectivity and commencing services from the upcoming Kannur international airport. While GoAir and Jet Airways have already got the nod to operate from Kannur airport, other major airlines have expressed interest in operating flights from KIAL.

Mr Vijayan had taken up the issue of airlines charging exorbitant fares during the festival and vacations seasons, mainly Onam season. Civil aviation secretary R.N. Choubey suggested the scope of operating more seats during the peak seasons so that the fares would not go up. “The airlines responded to it positively and said they would look into it,” the Chief Minister told reporters.

Mr Choubey said that the airlines were asked to give inputs on the option of operating additional flights in the Kerala–Gulf sector during the peak season by withdrawing services from any other sector. Bilateral talks would also have to be initiated in this regard as seat-sharing policies were involved, he said.

The airlines demanded a steep reduction in the tax on ATF from the present 29 per cent. They said the tax should be brought down to one per cent or even less for operating regional services at cheap rates like '2,500 prescribed by the Centre’s UDAN scheme. The airlines also demanded that tax for ATF should be brought down to nearly four per cent so that more airlines would take fuel from Kerala. “We promised to examine the demand and take appropriate decision,” the CM said. Indigo assured they would start another service in Thiruvan-anthapuram-New Delhi sector.

The representatives of about 20 airlines, who participated in the meeting, also welcomed the state’s plans for a new airport at Sabarimala. A working group of representatives of the state government, civil aviation ministry and the airlines would be formed to take forward the proposals discussed at the meeting.

Senior officials of civil aviation ministry, state government and directors of all airports in the state attended the meeting.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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