The Adani Group, which has won bids to operate six government airports, has increased fees up to ten times at Lucknow Airport. Fees such as ‘turnaround fees’ at the airport have been significantly increased for private jets and international flights.

The aviation community also expects an increase in charges at its five other airports – Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Guwahati, Mangalore and Thiruvananthapuram. Ahmedabad-based Adani Group won tenders to operate and manage six airports for 50 years in 2019.

While many airport charges across the country are regulated either by the government or the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), a ground handling company has the flexibility to increase the charges.

The regulator, AERA, decides on airport charges for five years. In the case of Lucknow Airport, the five-year period ended last year, but the decision on charges for the next five years is pending as the Adani Group took over the airport at the end. from last year.

The operator of Lucknow Airport has hired a new ground handling company, which has resulted in higher prices.

Operators complain, however, that there is no noticeable improvement in the quality of service. “There is no significant improvement in services to justify this huge increase in costs. Also, many of these business jet flights to Lucknow are medical evacuation flights, ”said one business jet operator who declined to be identified.

An email sent to the Adani group on Friday did not elicit a response until time of publication.

While the privatization of airports has increased efficiency, it has also led to an increase in levies opposed by airlines. The International Air Transport Association and Federation of Indian Airlines have opposed high charges at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad airports in the past.

The government, in 2018, made some changes to the tender criteria by moving from revenue sharing to the revenue per passenger model. Delhi and Mumbai airports were allocated on the basis of a revenue sharing model and the above six airports were allocated on the basis of a revenue per passenger model.

Despite this decision, privatization leads to an increase in fees, as the private airport operator makes investments to modernize infrastructure.

Airlines are only willing to pay more for infrastructure if it comes with improved efficiency, according to an airline official who declined to be identified. “The real test of efficiency at these airports won’t happen at times like this, when a lot of the planes are grounded. This will only happen after traffic returns to normal, ”said the executive.



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