Airports to come in for closer scrutiny on service standards

Ashwini Phadnis | | Updated on: Mar 22, 2018
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Indian airports could soon come in for closer scrutiny on whether they are meeting the standards that are expected of them. S. Machendranathan, Chairman, Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, said from the third control period, the Authority will look more closely at whether the airports are meeting the standards which they are expected to meet.

The control period lays down for how many years an airport can charge for the services it provides. Traditionally, airports are allowed to charge airlines for parking their aircraft, for the space for check-in counters, and passengers are charged for travelling through the airport. Delhi and Mumbai airports are unlikely to be immediately affected by this move as their control period ends in 2019. AERA is unlikely to get the system in place by the time the review of the two metro airports comes up.

AERA has been mandated by the government to monitor the performance and also whether the expenditure being undertaken by major India airports meets the standards that have been set. India defines a major airport as one that handle over 1.5 million passengers annually. The various standards that have to be met include setting down the time it takes for an arriving passenger to clear the entire airport process and get into his or her vehicle.

After examining the investment proposals of such airports, AERA sets the tariff that the airports can charge for various services provided. “We would like to link performance and the tariff that these airports charge. We would first like to monitor it on an objective basis..When you are a regulator, you cannot be biased. We would like to measure it on a continuous basis and, possibly, using technology. We would like to reward or incentivise, or, if any airport is going down, we could penalise. This is something which we are looking at,” he said.

The AERA Chairman declined to specify whether such a move would lead to an increase in the amount that a passenger pays for using airports after the review is over. “Each airport is unique. If you are efficient and able to do a good job, then the passenger will not mind paying a bit more as they are also getting (better) services. It will take some time for us to validate,” he pointed out.

Though there are guidelines to assess the performance of an airport, the real issue is how to measure the performance of each airport, AERA officials said.

(This correspondent is in Jaipur at the invitation of SITA)

Published on March 22, 2018

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