By bappaditya paul
The NSC Bose International (NSCBI) Airport in Kolkata has decided to impose a higher rental for airline ticket counters in the new terminal building, causing severe resentment among private airlines. The new terminal is expected to be put to use from October.
While the Airlines Operators’ Committee (AOC) ~ an association of all the airlines operating from the NSC Bose Airport ~ has raised the issue with the airport management, some smaller airlines are even saying, given the higher charges, they would prefer not to relocate their counters to the new terminal.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) headquarters recently issued a circular announcing the rates for space rentals in the new terminal building.
Going by the new rates, the rent for the air-conditioned area has been fixed at Rs 1,250 per square metre/ month as against the existing Rs 1,000; for non-AC area its is Rs 700 as against the present Rs 670. For ticket counters, the rent is fixed at Rs 2,250. The charge for the Executive Airline Lounge ~ a new facility being provided at the terminal ~ is Rs 3,500 square metre/month.
On top of this, a 25 per cent space utilisation charge will be levied on the total rentals in all the four categories.
The airlines, in particular, have a problem with the higher charges being imposed on ticket counters and the 25 per cent space utilisation charge. This will cause extreme financial strain on several airlines operating from Kolkata, they say.
“In the existing terminal building, no separate rental is realised from the ticket counters. Rather, the ticket counter space is clubbed under the AC-area category. But this decision to treat ticketing space in new terminal as a separate category and realise a higher charge will cause extreme financial strains for several airlines. This is especially when the country’s civil aviation sector is passing through a bad phase and the operational costs are rising,” said Captain Sarvesh Gupta, chairman of the Airlines Operators’ Committee at NSC Bose Airport.
“Then there is this centralised check-in system, which is being introduced in the new terminal. For this, the multinational IT firm ~ SITA ~ which will run the facility will charge the airlines Rs 27 per passenger. And all this, is going to make things difficult for us.”
While the AOC is welcoming the centralised check-in system, it has urged the NSC Bose Airport management to talk to SITA about lowering the charges to the extent possible. The airliners’ body also wants the airport authority to reconsider the decision to treat ticket counter area as a separate category and the imposition of 25 per cent space utilisation charge.
Contacted over this, officials at the airport said these are matters to be considered by the AAI headquarters. But neither the officials nor the airlines could say wether in the event of AAI sticking to its decision, the extra charges will get passed on to the passengers.
At present, there are 16 airlines that operate from the NSC Bose Airport.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This piece first appeared in The Statesman on 15 June 2012.)