Pune: AAI will make city lose air cargo business to Mumbai, feel airlines

May 13, 2014, 11:37 IST | Dheeraj Bengrut

Airlines say move to levy charge on them for docking area is unprecedented, will adversely affect cargo business at city airport

The Airport Authority of India’s (AAI) decision to levy a 36.3% charge for the use of the docking area at Pune airport from April 1, 2014, has the airlines up in arms.

All six airlines engaged in cargo operations at Pune airport — Indigo, Spice Jet, Go Air, Air India and Jet Airways — have opposed the charge, which will be levied on each airline’s annual gross turnover (GTO), and say that it will hurt cargo business in Pune.

“The air cargo business at Pune airport was developed by the airlines though 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,” said Dhairyashil Vandekar, chairman Pune Airline Operations Committee (PAOC), which has all six airlines as members.

“AAI has provided covered sheds and godowns to airlines for carrying out their cargo operations, for which the airlines are already paying them. When these covered areas have been provided to airlines by AAI, it is their duty to provide a docking area for transporters to have access to these offices and for loading/unloading of cargo.” added Vandekar.

‘No value addition’
Vandekar said that the area now being used for docking has not been customized by AAI for cargo operations and nor have they created any infrastructure to facilitate airlines’ cargo operations on this open land.

“Moreover, the AAI has been charging the vehicles of the general public and shippers coming into this area to collect or book cargo,” he said.

An airline official, requesting anonymity, said, “Airlines are never charged for the docking area in any airport in the country. AAI can charge only if an area is specifically allotted to an airline as per its requirement and if a space agreement is done. It cannot charge airlines for the docking area used by transporters and the general public.”

“AAI is now terming the docking area ‘common usage paved land’ and trying to charge airlines. This is unfair and unjust. It is like asking airlines to pay charges for the common areas and lobbies at airport terminals, which are used by passengers of all the airlines.”

Disgruntled carriers: The airlines, through the PAOC, sent a letter to AAI on May 8. Pic/Mohan Patil

Business suffers
Demanding that the charge be withdrawn, as it can adversely affect the entire cargo business at Pune airport, the airlines have, through the PAOC, sent a letter to AAI on May 8.

“We fear that these additional charges will result in a severe setback to the air cargo business from Pune airport, which was developed by the airlines over the years.

If the charge is levied, transporters may find it cheaper to move their cargo from Mumbai Airport instead of Pune from now on,” said Vandekar.

When mid-day tried to contact officials from AAI, Pune to get there side no one responded and refuse to talk on the issue.

Bone of contention

A source said the area of 1,643.4 sq m for which the AAI is levying charges on airlines, is actually used by the public and transporters for handing over and taking delivery of cargo. The docking area, now being referred to as ‘the common paved land’ by the AAI, is adjacent to the cargo sheds and godowns of airlines, and was a paid parking space earlier. This area was then dedicated to the cargo business, chain-link fencing was installed, and the parking space was moved outside the airport premises.

The approximate amount of cargo (in tonnes) that is moved in and out of Pune airport by the six airlines in a year

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