Overseas air travel to cost more from May 1

Mumbai, April 28 | Updated: Apr 29 2006, 05:30am hrs
International air fares for first and business class will now be dearer, with the ministry of finance issuing a notification to all carriers operating flights from India to overseas that a service fee of 12.24% would be levied on air tickets for these categories effective May 1 this year. This, combined with the proposed fuel surcharges announced by carriers on Thursday, will make air travel much more expensive.

A top official in the airline industry told FE , "The notification from the ministry has reached us yesterday. We will be implementing the revised fares from May 1." While the decision to introduce the service fee was discussed in the latest Union Budget, it did not go down well with many. In fact, civil aviation minister Praful Patel had taken up the issue with the finance minister. Centre for Asia Pacific CEO Kapil Kaul said, "The airlines will now have no other option but to implement this." The announcement to raise fares has already taken its toll on international bookings. "There has been a 30% drop in bookings on international routes," said Travel Agents Federation of India president Zakkir Ahmed. Travel agents and top industry groups like the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) have been protesting against the move.