India’s airport bureaucracy continues to strangle business

Six airlines engaged in cargo operations at Pune Airport (PNQ in Maharashtra state, 120 km southeast of Mumbai) have formally opposed the Airport Authority of India’s (AAI’s) decision to levy a heavy surcharge for the use of the common docking area at the airport. The carriers, including Indigo, Spice Jet, Go Air, Air India and Jet Airways, have officially protested the move through the Pune Airline Operators Committee (PAOC). Given the size of the surcharge – 36.3% of the gross turnover of the cargo revenue earned by the airlines at the airport – and the fact that the “docking area” is little more than some covered sheds and warehouses for which the airlines are already paying, the protest is hardly surprising.

Dhairyashil Vandekar, Chairman of PAOC, said that if the airlines are levied extra charges by the AAI, shippers may find it cheaper to use Mumbai Airport instead of Pune, as surface transportation of goods between Pune and Mumbai is well established and economical. He added: “The air cargo business at Pune airport was developed by the airlines through years of toil even though no proper facility for the growth of the business has been made available by AAI. Airlines have, at times, air-lifted cargo at no profit to support the cause of trade, commerce and industry in Pune.”

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