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High fuel tax drains airlines dry

Owing to excessive rates of sales tax imposed on aircraft fuel, international airlines and domestic operators lift minimum quantities of it from Calcutta.

The Bengal government charges 25 per cent over and above the total cost of air turbine fuel (ATF) lifted in Calcutta.

International airlines have to pay around $50 more for every 1,000 litres of ATF lifted here. Foreign operators pay for ATF in dollars all over India.

Domestic operators pay Rs 4 more per litre for ATF in Calcutta than in Guwahati. Some international operators do not lift ATF in Calcutta owing to its high cost.

Finance minister Asim Dasgupta denied comment on the matter. “The Assembly session has been announced. Whatever I have to say, I shall say in the Assembly,” he said.

KLM operates a weekly flight on the Amsterdam–Calcutta route via Delhi and the plane consumes 100,000 litres of ATF, KLM sources said. But KLM does not lift any ATF in Calcutta, it refuels in Delhi.

In the domestic sector, a Boeing consumes 2,500 litres of ATF for each flight on the Calcutta- Guwahati-Calcutta route. An airline has to pay Rs 20,000 more in Calcutta than in Guwahati to fly on the sector. Indian Airlines, Jet Airways, Air Sahara and Alliance Air operate a total of five flights daily between Calcutta and Guwahati.

Indian Oil sources in Calcutta said for November 2003, international airlines paid $385.85 for every 1,000 litres of ATF in Delhi, $428.68 in Calcutta, $ 374.30 in Mumbai, $397.01 in Chennai and $401.08 in Bangalore. Price of air fuel is fixed every month by oil companies. Earlier, the petroleum ministry would fix it twice a year.

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