Stating that it will be detrimental to the aviation industry's recovery efforts, global airlines body IATA has requested the Centre to suspend the planned increase in aviation security fee (ASF) for domestic and international passengers, an official document said.
On March 19, the Civil Aviation Ministry had said the ASF would be increased from Rs 160 to Rs 200 for domestic passengers and USD 5.20 to USD 12 for international passengers from April 1.
Conrad Clifford, Regional Vice President, Asia Pacific, International Air Transport Association (IATA) wrote a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday, stating that "the aviation industry is facing the biggest challenge of its history" due to the pandemic and it is trying to restart itself while ensuring it does not become a vector for COVID-19.
Airlines collect the ASF from passengers when they book their tickets and then give it to the government. The ASF is used to fund the security arrangement at airports across the country.
Clifford told Puri that COVID-19 has devastated the air transport industry and any such costs escalation - the increase in the ASF - in such uncertain times will be detrimental to its collective recovery efforts.
"It is worthwhile to note that various other governments and service providers are freezing or reducing charges in response to the current crisis to facilitate a quicker recovery of traffic," he noted.
"The IATA would respectfully request the government of India to consider delaying or suspending the planned increase in ASF rates effective April 1, 2021," he stated.
The aviation sector has been significantly impacted due to the travel restrictions imposed in India and other countries in view of the coronavirus pandemic.
All airlines in India have taken cost-cutting measures such as pay cuts, leave-without-pay and firings of employees in order to conserve cash.