Kochi: Union Minister for Civil Aviation Syed Shahnawaz Husain has announced a cut of 5 to 7.5 per cent in Air India fares from Kerala to various Gulf destinations, which include Kuwait, Doha and Saudi Arabian cities.
The fares to Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have been reduced by 5 per cent and in the Kuwait sector a 7.5-per cent cut has been announced. This will help passengers to save between Rs 725 and Rs 1,000 on these flights along with the 5 to 6 percent discount normally offered by travel agencies.
Husain says his ministry will be able to extend a better deal to the Kerala passengers only if the Kerala state government takes a decision on the sales tax on aviation turbine fuel (ATF). Kerala charges the highest sales tax of 39.1 per cent in the country.
"Kerala should reduce the sales tax like Andhra Pradesh, which now charges just 4 per cent. This will help the airlines save a lot on fuel and this benefit can be passed on to the passengers," he says.
The minister says he has already communicated the issue to Kerala Chief Minister AK Antony. "I'll be discussing the issue the next time I meet him. The government should also understand that any reduction in air fares would bring in more tourists to the state."
At present various airlines are filling ATF from other airports like Hyderabad. "If the Kerala government also reduces the sales tax on ATF, the possibility of an increase in operations to Kerala is bright," says Husain.