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Airport builder to seek fuel sop
- Surcharge cut will reduce airport cost and lure airlines: BAPL

Durgapur, Feb. 9: The promoters of the airport city project in Burdwan’s Andal will request the state government to initially offer tax sops on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to lure airlines to the new facility.

“We’ll approach the state government for reduction in sales tax on ATF at our airport. A lower ATF price will attract airlines to the new facility,” said Subrata Paul, the CEO and director of Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Limited (BAPL), which is building the airport in partnership with Singapore’s Changi Airports International.

ATF price is the single largest component — between 35 and 40 per cent — of the operational costs of an airline.

“In several states, the government gives such sops to smaller airports to make them viable,” Paul said.

Sources in the civil aviation ministry said the Maharashtra government had given sops on jet fuel prices at the smaller airports. “The ATF tax at smaller airports in Nagpur, Aurangabad and Nanded is lower than that in Mumbai and Pune,” an official said.

He said that in some states, the jet fuel tax was as low as 4 per cent.

The ATF price in Calcutta is one of the highest in the country. Aviation experts said the reason behind this was the high sales tax of 25 per cent in Bengal (see box).

“If such a move (reduction in tax on ATF) is initiated by the state government, airlines will definitely be interested in operating from Andal. A reduced ATF price will bring down the operational costs,” an official of a private airline said.

BAPL is also planning to offer concessions such as lower landing and parking charges.

The promoters planned to seek the tax sop after Mamata Banerjee urged the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to refurbish the non-functional smaller airports in the districts and start flight operations from them. The chief minister has also promised to extend “all help” for the Andal project.

“A number of airlines are interested in operating from Andal,” said Paul, who held a meeting with representatives of several airlines yesterday and also showed them the ongoing work at the site.

Work on the Rs 624-crore project started in January 2011. BAPL officials said around 40 per cent of the project was complete and they were expecting to begin operations by the end of this year.

Private airline operators said they were planning flights from Andal to Delhi and Mumbai via Calcutta.

“We’ll conduct surveys. But as of now, it seems there will be passengers for these two sectors. Flights can be operated through Calcutta to make the routes more viable,” the private airline official said.

The Andal airport will have a terminal with an annual capacity to handle one million passengers. The 2,800-metre runway will be able to handle narrow-bodied jet aircraft, including Airbus 320 and Boeing 737.

Four parking bays will be built on the airfield. The BAPL officials said a 4.1km approach road would be built from the national highway to the airport.