MIAL under fire from consumer groups

ZEE News, October 06, 2012

Search major accused of driving users to ancillary services owned or operated by it

The Mumbai International Airport (MIAL) plea with the airport regulator Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) to hike aeronautical tariffs by as high as 660 percent has been widely criticized for being anti-consumer and anti-aviation industry. If the plea gets implemented it would be a much steeper hike when compared to the already granted 346 percent hike to Delhi International Airport Authority (DIAL).

Commenting on MIAL’s proposal, aviation industry watcher and ex-promoter of SpiceJet, Ajay Singh, asserted, “Essentially anything which increases the cost of airlines is a bad thing. This proposal would be a dampener for the whole aviation industry which is already reeling under huge losses and mounting debt. Therefore, this would worsen the financial situation of the airlines in the country.”

Singh’s thought got an endorsement from Pradeep Singh Mehta, Secretary General, Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS International), who averred, “It’s not the right proposal submitted by MIAL and if private operators continue to make this type of proposal then it will raise questions over the performance and future of Public Private Partnership (PPP) model applied in the country.”

In sync with Mehta’s view, D Sudhakara Reddy, President, Air Passengers Association of India, opined, “They are doing illegal work by demanding a whopping hike of 660 per cent in airport charges. The monopolistic pricing shouldn’t be followed in this type of environment.”

Commenting on the impact on passenger, Ashim Sanyal, COO and Secretary, Consumer VOICE (Voluntary Organisation in Interest of Consumer Education), affirmed, “Passengers would be adversely affected because higher costs would make connectivity difficult. It will push up the costs in general and would lead to inflationary trends. This is a bad chapter and since this hike is a continuous process, consumers will ultimately feel the pinch.”

Earlier this year, foreign carrier like AirAsia has stopped using Delhi and Mumbai’s airport due to high costs at both the airports. Confirming this fact, Sanyal at Consumer VOICE, said, “Passenger traffic is bound to fall in the international route as many low cost airlines are withdrawing from these important route. Personal or leisure travel has already taken a beating and it’s expected that it will reduce going forward.”

Reiterating Sanyal’s view on passenger traffic growth, said Singh (formerly with SpiceJet), “It will definitely affect the passenger traffic in the country as the proposal seems unfair and unreasonable from consumer’s perspective.”

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