2012 starts with more taxes for air travellers

January 4, 2012 at 12:26 p01 | Posted in Air Law | 1 Comment


Wednesday, 4 Jan 2012


Amid regular flight delays and poor standards of service at all airlines operating in the country, additional airfares have greeted air travellers on the advent of the year 2012.

From January 16, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) will levy new charges on airlines’ tickets including embarkation fee, government airport tax, infrastructure development and security charges.

International passengers of business and economy class will now pay an additional amount of Rs 1,720 and Rs 1,220, respectively, while all domestic travellers within Pakistan will pay an extra charge of Rs 200.

With the latest development, the basic fare and the taxes have almost reached an equal level for the air passengers, and if the trend continues the tax proportion may even become larger than the base fare itself.

In the past, airport taxes had a negative impact on passengers departing from airports in Pakistan against the supposed norm of airlines and aviation authorities treating passengers fairly and equitably according to international practices.

As there are no uniform terms to identify taxes and charges imposed on air travellers by airports and the government, the authorities have imposed a complex structure of operational costs, tax and charges on airlines as well as passengers.

Different airline companies use different terms to identify the same types of charges, as some tickets include airport tax and service charges, while others only mention “fare and surcharges”.

It is also important to note that airlines do not compensate their passengers if their flights are cancelled or they cancel their reservations.

As the airlines continue to rip off passengers through flight delays and poor services, the passengers are also swindled through unfair practices of arbitrary fixing of fares and taxes.

Talking with Pakistan Today, an aviation lawyer Shah Murad said for ensuring transparency for airlines and air travellers both, the government should work with all stakeholders and transpose International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)’s policies on charges for airports and air navigation services into national aviation laws.

“It is a general practice in the airline industry that aviation authorities impose taxes, fees and charges for generating revenue for airport improvement. The airlines collect taxes on behalf of the aviation authorities on the cost of traveller’s ticket. However, such charges should be calculated in accordance with the principles of transparency, consultation and non-discrimination as set out in the ICAO’s policies (Doc 9082),” he said.

“Being a member of ICAO, Pakistan should ensure that government authorities impose taxes, fees and charges in a transparent manner.”
Representing valid policies and references for airport charging methods as promoted by the Airports Council International, the ICAO guidelines are widely complied with by the global airport industry.

“There are a number of different taxes levied on air travellers by airport operators and aviation authorities to finance infrastructure development, passengers’ safety and security services at airports,” Murad said. “Such taxes are legally valid only if they are directly reinvested in improvements of airports and infrastructure instead of other purposes.”

Generally, the airport service charges are not applied to children under two years, transit passengers leaving Pakistan and foreign diplomats.

On December 3, 2011, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had reportedly written a letter to CAA Director General Air Marshal (retd) Khalid Chaudhry, stating that taxes should not be implemented without prior consultations with the airlines.

It is worth mentioning that IATA – an international industry group representing 240 airlines – has compiled all charges in a comprehensive directory called “List of Ticket and Airport Taxes and Fees-Tax List”, whose Section 3 provides a list of different terms used to describe these levies and compares information on the size of these charges collected from airlines and airports.

In the US, Passenger Facility Charge (PFC) programme allows the collection of PFC fees up to $4.50 for every enplaned passenger at commercial airports. Airport authorities use these fees to fund the Federal Aviation Administration approved projects that enhance safety and security.

Meanwhile, in the European Union (EU) countries, airport charges are regulated by the 2009/12/EG directive. Since March 2011, the EU directive has promoted an independent supervisory authority for levying airport charges.




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