Kolkata: In an attempt to bring down operating cost of airlines, Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh on Friday asked chief ministers of states to reduce taxes on aviation fuel.

"We have written to chief ministers several times on the issue, but they are all worried about their fiscal problems," Singh said on the sidelines of PanIIT Alumni Meet here.

While Chhattisgarh was the only state to have reduced aviation fuel taxes by four percent, Maharastra had publicly announced that it would consider reducing it, Singh said.

ATF (aviation turbine fuel) taxes in New Delhi stands at 20 per cent, in Maharastra 25 percent and in West Bengal it is 29 percent.

Due to lukewarm responses from a majority of state governments in reducing ATF tax, the Centre has agreed to bring the pricing of jet fuel under the oil regulator.

The move is aimed at accountability and reducing costs for airlines, which accounts for nearly 50 percent of domestic airlines costs.

Taxes on aviation fuel are reportedly an area of concern for foreign aviation majors trying to enter Indian market.

Singh said that so far no foreign airlines had approached the government for FDI clearance, adding, "I believe talks are on as reported in newspapers. They are supposed to inform us after signing the deal".

Asked about Kingfisher Airlines, he said that the airlines would have to satisfy DGCA norms and ensure passenger safety and a proper flight schedule.

"We are not monitoring KFA anymore as they are not flying. They have to satisfy (to DGCA) about their plans... fiscal, operational and safety. Unless we are sure about passenger safety and some integrity about their schedule of flights, I don't think DGCA will allow them to fly," he said.

The new terminal airport at Kolkata is expected to be operational by January 23, he said.


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