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Air tickets to get more expensive as govt hikes fee to pay CISF dues

CISF handles security at most civilian airports, but has not been paid its dues in many years. Govt has hiked passenger security fee to clear these dues.

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New Delhi: Flying within India will get more expensive by Rs 20, while flying international will be dearer by US$ 1.60 after the Ministry of Civil Aviation decided to hike the passenger security fee (PSF).

Passengers will now pay Rs 150 for domestic travel instead of Rs 130, and $4.85 (about Rs 340) instead of $3.25 as PSF. The fee was last revised 10 years ago.

The hike, which is yet to be notified, is to make sure that the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), which is responsible for maintaining security at most of India’s civilian airports, is paid its long-pending dues.

The CISF currently guards 59 civilian airports, and its services are to be extended to 30 more airports soon. The Central Reserve Police Force guards the Srinagar and Jammu airports in J&K.

“The increase in PSF is in an advanced stage. The proposal to increase Rs 20 in domestic airfare and $1.60 in international airfare will help clear all pending dues. We hope that it will get implemented soon,” said Rajesh Ranjan, director-General of the CISF.

PSF, which is charged as a part of passenger airfare, has two components — security and facilitation fee. While the security component is charged to meet the expenditure incurred to maintain security at the airport, the facilitation charge is for services like baggage trolleys, Wi-Fi, electronic display boards, escalators etc.

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Delhi airport owed Rs 600 crore

The CISF has suffered for long because of non-payment of dues. For example, the Delhi International Airport Authority (DIAL), which manages the Indira Gandhi International Airport, owes at least Rs 600 crore to the CISF.

In June last year, the CISF had even stated that it may have to remove security cover from airports if the dues were not cleared at the earliest. The home secretary also reportedly wrote to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, saying his ministry would have no option but to withdraw security to the airports if payments weren’t expedited.

According to a CISF official, DIAL has paid at least Rs 100 crore less than it was supposed to pay every year, and the dues are now totalling at least Rs 600 crore over a five-year period.

DIAL, for its part, said it did not have enough funds to pay for the security deployed, resulting in the CISF taking up the issue with both ministries.

Following this, both private operators like GMR (which owns DIAL) and the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI) demanded an increase in PSF.

“These are long-pending dues, but DIAL has now slowly started settling the bills and has started paying up. This move will definitely help fill the pool faster,” a CISF officer said.

“CISF too has to pay salaries to the personnel along with other facilities, which requires funds. If the dues are not cleared, it will make these personnel suffer.”

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