Non-reduction in aviation fuel ST in Mumbai disappoints Patel

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Nagpur, Apr 14 (UNI) Union Minister for Civil Aviation Praful Patel today said he was disappointed that the Maharashtra Government had not reduced the Sales Tax (ST) on aviation fuel in Mumbai in spite of its assurance to do so.

Speaking to reporters here, Mr Patel said the state government had reduced ST on aviation fuel in other parts of Maharashtra, but not in Mumbai. This had made air travel costly in the state, because a lot of flights originated from Mumbai and, therefore bought fuel in the metropolis, he said.

The government had given an assurance that it would reduce the tax on fuel sold in Mumbai, too, but has not done it so far, Mr Patel said. Fuel accounted for 42 per cent of the cost of operating a flight and any reduction in tax thereon, can be passed on in the form of a decrease in the fare, he said.

Mr Patel said there were plans to introduce direct flights from Nagpur to Chennai and to destinations in Uttar Pradesh (UP).

However, he refused to divulge details, saying that things were being worked out.

Earlier, Mr Patel was a guest of honour at the inauguration of the new terminal building of Dr Ambedkar International Airport and the unveiling of a statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar in the premises of the aerodrome, here this morning.

Union Minister for Agriculture Sharad Pawar inaugurated the new terminal building and also unveiled the statue of Dr Ambedkar. Bihar Governor R S Gavai was in the chair, while Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh was the chief guest. Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister R R Patil was a guest of honour.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has modified and upgraded the existing terminal building at Nagpur airport into a world-class integrated terminal building at a cost of Rs 79 crore. Covering an area of 17,500 square metres, the new building has the capacity to handle 400 arriving/400 departing domestic passengers and 150 arriving/150 departing international passengers during peak hours.

The new terminal building has 20 check-in and 20 immigration counters, passenger boarding bridges with visual docking guidance systems, escalators, lifts, baggage conveyor systems and a duty-free shop. Nagpur airport was upgraded into an international airport and renamed after Dr Ambedkar in 2005. Currently, it has regular flights to four international destinations - Sharjah (Air Arabia), Bangkok (Indian), Doha (Qatar Airways) and Dubai (Air India Express).

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