Copters to Chardham: Aircraft operators protest hike in royalty, parking fee
Pilgrims booking a helicopter package for Chardham yatra have to shell out 15-16 per cent more following a hike in royalties and parking charges by authorities in Uttarakhand, evoking a strong protest from the Business Aircraft Operator Association (BAOA).
The association has demanded immediate withdrawal of the “unlawful order” issued by the Uttarakhand Civil Aviation Development Authority (UCADA).
The move has increased the price of the package per passenger from about Rs 1.6-1.7 lakh to about Rs 1.85-1.95 with the imposition of royalty which comes to Rs 25,000 after the hike in landing and parking charges.
Terming the move as “abrupt” and “unreasonable”, the BAOA said the order has been made without the legally-mandatory stakeholders’ consultation process as enshrined in the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) 2016.
Apart from the Rs 25,000 as royalty, the order has raised parking charges at hanger from Rs 1,000 to Rs 5,000 in the helipads. In Badrinath, Kharshali, Badkot, for each landing, the charges has been raised to Rs 5,000, an official said.
The order was issued on May 12, about two weeks after the yatra begun, forcing pilgrims, who had already made their bookings, to pay the additional charges. Over one lakh pilgrims have already booked for the yatra.
“This sudden decision, of levying royalty charges, has shocked the pilgrims and adversely affected the existing plans of those who had booked helicopters in advance for the yatra,” BAOA managing director Captain R K Bali said.
The order of the Uttarakhand government not only compromises the mission of National Civil Aviation Policy but also negates the government’s efforts of taking flying to the masses by making it affordable and convenient, he said.
“We strongly urge UCADA to revoke the order with immediate effect, rationalise all applicable charges such as landing and parking – in line with NCAP 2016 and existing orders of AERA to boost Regional Connectivity Scheme and consider providing subsidy for Chardham yatra to boost pilgrimage tourism in the state,” he said