Peak-time air surcharge to be offset by non-peak incentives

Mumbai: The government has offered to offset the burden of a hike in peak-time charges on airline operations at three major airports by incentives during non-peak hours.

The civil aviation ministry is working on a proposal to hike or even double the peak-time navigation and other airport charges to de-congest air traffic over Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore airports from 25 March, the start of the summer schedule.

While the decision could lead to rise in airfares in peak hours as airlines are likely to pass the burden to customers, the charges could be halved between midnight and 0500 hours.

"This is not a permanent measure. It is a temporary step to tide over the problem of congestion till infrastructure to expand capacity of airports to handle heavy traffic is in place," civil aviation minister Praful Patel said.

The move was aimed at ensuring these airports were used equitably throughout the day, Patel said, adding, "We will increase certain charges. These will be offset by equal amounts of incentives for non-peak time operations."

The ministry was working on a system of disincentives for airlines services between 0700-1000 hours in the morning and 1800-2200 hours in evening.

Aircraft have to hover over these three airports for about 30-45 minutes during peak hours before landing and most private airlines have already given provision for a congestion surcharge on their tickets.