GMR to begin charging US$25 development fee to departing passengers

GMR will begin charging international passengers a US$25 (Rf385.5) Airport Development Charge (ADC) at the departure check-in counters of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport for all flights scheduled after 12 am on January 1, 2012.

The fee was previously approved by the government as part of its contract with GMR, said State Transport Minister Adil Saleem.

“This is supposed to be standard procedure in most airports, but I’m not sure that all airports do it. It may depend on their development status. Sometimes it’s collected with the ticket price,” said GMR Head of Corporate Communications Mahika Chandrasena.

To incorporate the fee into ticket prices, International Air Transport Association (IATA) must provide a specialised code to airlines. IATA has not provided these codes.

Local airline operators allegedly informed GMR last week that without IATA’s permission they could not charge the fee internally.

Administrative Manager for Maldivian Airlines Ali Nashad Ahmed said the airline was “still seeking advice from Civil Aviation on how to proceed” with fees and customer relations due to the change. The airline expects to receive further instructions within the next week.

According to Chandrasena, the mechanism to incorporate the fee into ticket prices will be installed in the near future. Until then, GMR will charge the fee separate from airline tickets as per government regulations.

Immigration and customs authorities have supported the move, said Chandrasena, although the public is disgruntled at the higher price. “The fee is actually low compared to other airports,” said Chandrasena. “In Indonesia the fee is somewhere around US$50.”

Deputy Director General of the Civil Aviation Department Hussein Jaleel today said he didn’t know why IATA had refused the code, but that the department was recommending that the fee be charged at point of sale.

“It is more convenient for the passengers,” he said. “Some airports charge the fee separately, so this not peculiar to the Maldives. But our recommendation is to include the fee in the ticket price itself, so passengers only have to make one payment,” Jaleel said.

All passengers except those holding Maldivian passports and work visas will be expected to pay the amount in US dollars. The boarding pass will be issued after payment.