As India reels under the impact of coronavirus - which has spread to over 100 countries in the last two months - an industry representatives body for seven airports has urged the central government to consider caps on revenue share for at least three months amid significant reduction in air traffic.
In a letter to Civil Aviation Secretary PS Kharola, the Association of Private Airports Operators (APAO) has said: "Reduced passengers at airports have adversely impacted the non-aero (non-aeronautical) revenues due to less sales at F&B (Food and Beverage) and retail outlets. Non-aero concessionaires have already started asking for reduced revenue share or MMG which in turn will impact airport operators revenues."
Revenues have been affected due to flight cancellations by domestic and international airlines in the past few weeks, the representative body said in its letter, stressing on the increased financial burden.
The operators which include firms managing major airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore have pitched for provisioning of an "airport operator alleviation package".
While the GMR group-led Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) is required to share 45.99 per cent of its gross revenue with state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI), the concession agreement with Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) requires the firm to share 38.7 per cent of its revenue with the government agency, according to news agency IANS.
Manpower has been increased at the airports, expenditure has been increased on items like masks, sanitisers and floor cleaners,to ensure that government guidelines are followed on coronavirus, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, the APAO highlighted.
"Given our focus on passenger convenience especially at such a juncture, significant time and effort is being spent by senior management at all these airports. Infrastructure placed by airports are of fixed nature and not flexible in response to such fluctuations in passenger demand. Corresponding financial burden is also of fixed nature in terms of interest outgo and various other expenses," the industry body has said in its letter, news agency IANS reported.
Air traffic has been significantly hit amid coronavirus scare. On Thursday, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said number of international passengers arriving at the country's airports has come down to around 62,000 per day from 70,000. The number may come down to 40,000, he said.
In a statement, Bangalore International Airport Ltd (BIAL) said domestic passengers volume has also been squeezed by 2-4 per cent and it may dip further if the number of coronavirus cases go up further.
On Wednesday, India's largest airline IndiGo said it was expecting quarterly earnings to be adversely impacted as daily bookings have declined 15-20 per cent.
India- where over 70 people are infected - has witnessed biggest jump in coronavirus cases in the last two weeks. Worldwide, over 4,500 people have died, more than one lakh are affected due to the pandemic.
(With inputs from IANS, PTI)