Effective June 1, the Airport Authority of T&T (AATT) will increase its Passenger Service charge (formerly Departure Tax) from $100 to $200. The decision to hike the price was taken by the AATT board at a February 2 meeting, Transport Minister Devant Maharaj confirmed yesterday.
The last increase, Maharaj said, was ten years ago. "We have no choice. If somebody has to worry about a $100 increase as they buy a ticket to go away they would have other problems involved. I think the new fee is reasonable." He said the increase was small compared to the prices people paid for visas and airline tickets.
Maharaj said he would examine cost against revenue with regard to all agencies under him. The airport, Maharaj said, barely earns enough from the collection of fares and fees. Plans, Sunday Guardian understands, are also in the pipeline to increase the concourse fee from $45 to $65, which Maharaj said he was unaware of.
In order to fulfil its mandate to provide safe and secure aviation facilities and to generate additional revenue to meet increased salaries and maintenance cost, Maharaj said the AATT recommended that the departure tax be changed. The AATT estimates passenger movement of 843,078 from October 2011 to 2012.
Yesterday, several travel agencies complained that they were unaware of the increase. Maharaj said the hike was to fully recover the cost of the provision of security at the international checkpoint, stating that the AATT had never collected any fees for the provision of security checks at the domestic facilities.
In the 2008, the Departure Tax was replaced by the Passenger Service charge on each individual travel ticket with the exception of tickets issued to those individuals who were exempted from the payment of the tax under the existing law. The Departure Tax comprises a security fee of $25 and a payment of $75 to the consolidated fund.
The AATT was paid a commission of 5 per cent by the Transport Ministry on the collection of the $75. Maharaj said the break-even charge for the security charge was estimated at $73.90 per passenger. He explained that the projected security cost from October 2011 to September 2012 by the AATT was estimated at $18 million.
The AATT projected a deficit of $46 million from October 2011 to September 2012 for security fees, goods and services, allocated personnel cost and depreciation.