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Charter flights may skip Goa because of higher airport charges

Tourism associations from Goa are demanding withdrawal of revised slot fees

Aneesh Phadnis  |  Mumbai 

Weak rouble led to a drop in Russian visitors to Goa last winter and the state's travel fear arrivals could decline this year too with Airport Authority of India (AAI) hiking the deposit amount it collects from charter

The charter season in Goa runs from October-May and Russia and Britain are top source markets for Goa. In 2013-14 Goa airport handled 1141 charter flight movements and that number declined to 889 during last season till May 2015.

AAI collects a deposit from charter while granting them arrival and departure slots and for this year season the authority has revised the deposit structure leading to protests from local tour operators.

Till last winter the authority charged Rs 2 lakh security deposit per slot for the entire season but it changed the deposit structure and now it is based on number of flight movements planned in season.

Charter companies have to pay a minimum of Rs 25 lakh for upto 25 movements and a Rs 1 crore for more than 75 movements. Further for every cancellation or non utilisation of slot company has to pay a penalty of rupee one lakh adjustable against the deposit.

“We have received the request from charter companies and we are discussing the issue with them,” said Goa airport director K S Rao.

“Is the Indian government trying to promote tourism or discourage it. Russian charter operator Nordwind has requested permission to operate only 36 flights to Goa while last year it flew over 250 flights. Monarch Airlines from UK is not flying to Goa this year.

The increase in deposits has increased costs for these companies and now they even have to bear the risks for cancellation of flights,” said Bharat Atree, managing director of Caper Travels which handles charter flights in Goa.

According to Atree and other travel companies from Goa number of Russian tourists declined by about 40 percent last winter compared to 2013-14 seasons with many cancellations between January-May period.

“We have been demanding incentives from government to support charter companies which bring foreign tourists to Goa. Now instead of providing incentives the government is charging higher deposits,” complained Francisco de Braganca, president of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa. “The revision in deposits could lead to cancellations,” said Aloo Gomes Pereira, chief operating officer (charters) of Trail Blazer Tours India.

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First Published: Tue, August 04 2015. 00:40 IST
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