New Delhi: The aviation ministry has asked Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) to review stay charges levied on business jets parked at Mumbai airport during the lockdown after complaints by nonscheduled operators (NSOPs) that they were too high. MIAL, however, has not acted on suggestions made by the ministry. MIAL CEO Rajiv Jain has been asked to “to kindly look into the issue of levy of stay charges by MIAL as raised by BAOA (Business Aircraft Operators Association) and other NSOP operators, and to find a solution to ameliorate their hardship,” according to the aviation ministry’s late July letter, which ET has seen.

The rules allow Mumbai airport to levy stay charges on business jets parked for more than 48 hours. These are 30-40 times higher than regular parking rates – the longer the stay, the higher the slab. This is exclusive to Mumbai as it’s the most congested airport in the country. “Normal charges are around Rs 200 per hour depending on weight of the aircraft,” said an aircraft operator. “Same charges become Rs 6,000 per hour after six days or so of overstay beyond 48 hours.” MIAL didn’t respond to ET’s queries. MIAL has also not responded to the ministry’s letter and the NSOP operators are still waiting for a respite along the lines suggested by the aviation ministry. General aviation aircraft operators said that they couldn’t move their planes out of Mumbai during the lockdown because operations by business jets were banned.

“The levying of ‘penal’ or ‘overstay’ charges on non-scheduled and GA operators at Mumbai airport during the period of complete nation-wide lockdown ordered by Indian government, from 24th March to 25th May 2020, is a clear indication that private operators, managing big public airports, can’t be allowed to become totally insensitive to ground realities and treat these airports as corporate property,” BAOA managing director Rajesh K Bali told ET.

He said Indian private airports should be dissuaded from levying such high rates. “When the option to get airborne is not there due to complete ban by invoking national emergency, what is the logic of levying overstay charges? It is time the government corrects this alarming development and rewrite rules for these private operators of big public airports in India,” Bali said. “This, surely, is a wake up all for the government and we hope this gets resolved in a just and fair manner, very soon.”

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