Flying abroad? Not declaring goods may land you in trouble

MUMBAI: After angadias emerged from anonymity following a recent raid on trucks filled with cash, gold and diamonds, people have been asking if a person carrying a lot of money and valuables can be pulled up for doing so, especially if one is flying. Can a flyer be refused security clearance for carrying cash and valuables above a limit? The rules are different for international and domestic travel.

As per customs rules, for carrying gold and expensive items from India to other countries, one needs to procure a certificate from the precious cargo complex a day in advance.

For travelling abroad, one needs to be careful about one’s baggage. It is usual for one to carry jewellery, cash and expensive gadgets, but unless one declares the goods and their value before leaving, one can fall into customs’ net upon return. As per customs rules, for carrying gold and expensive items from India to other countries, one needs to procure a certificate from the precious cargo complex a day in advance. Upon return, the certificate can be shown to customs to claim duty exemption. “The traveler can thus leave the airport without any hassle,” said an officer from the Air Intelligence Unit.

What about bringing home goods bought abroad? “One needs to pay duty if one brings into the country things that cost more than a certain limit,” said a customs official. The duty is 36% for goods worth more than Rs 35,000. For gold, the duty regime is more liberal for women, the allowance being amounts costing up to Rs 20,000. For men, the limit is Rs 10,000. Amounts of gold above these limits attract a duty of 36%. As for cash, one is allowed to bring into the country $5 000 and an equal amount in traveler’s cheques (above what one declared at the time of leaving India).

Customs officials say travelers should never knowingly hide valuables to escape duty. “If discovered, they need to pay a fine apart from duty. It could also lead to an arrest and a court case,” said an official. “In 20-30% of the cases, the intention is not smuggling, but the cases are classified as such.”

What about domestic travel? Well, there is no rule on carrying cash, gold, jewels or gadgets, which means one can carry whatever one feels like and in any quantity. “We do not set limits on such items as they do not pose a haz ard to aircraft security,” said an official of the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.

But then the income tax department comes into the picture. “If the department receives a tipoff that someone is carrying a huge quantity of cash, its officials can stop and interrogate the flyer,” said an officer. “If one can produce a receipt or otherwise show the origin of the cash, there is no problem.”

Source: The Times of India

Flyers may have to remove belts, shoes for airport checks

NEW DELHI: Flyers in India may soon be required to take off their shoes and belts to clear pre-boarding security checks just like in all US and some European airports.

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has conducted a pilot project for this at Delhi’s terminal 1D and is now examining the possibility of implementing the procedure that involves asking passengers to put away all metallic objects before they pass through detectors and then get frisked.

“We have got data from the pilot project at Delhi and are examining the modifications that need to be made to existing x-ray machines at security counters. The conveyor belt will need to be longer to accommodate more items going though the scanner and the output conveyor belt (from where baggage is picked up after screening) will also need to be modified,” said a senior official.

In western airports where passengers are required to take off their shoes and belts, flyers put the footwear along with cabin baggage in the same try with the laptops kept separately. In India, however, aviation security authorities recognize that local customs and traditions may require having separate trays for footwear as people may not like to put their other stuff in the same tray as their shoes.

“We plan to have same colour trays just for shoes and other metallic objects at all airports so that there is uniformity,” said the official.

This change in security check practice is being considered by BCAS to shorten serpentine queues at frisking counters as well as enhance the quality of checking. “The idea is not to have any metallic object (except medical implants) on the person of a flyer before sending him or her to detectors currently used or the millimetre wave technique body scanners being considered for some airports. If despite that there is a beep sound, then just that portion will be frisked from where the beep emanated,” said sources.

The BCAS is examining the millimetre wave technique body scanners as it does not show the contours of the body, thereby minimizing fears that these machines will be an intrusion on privacy. The health issues involved with the machine are also being examined. Body scanners using two other techniques—back scatter and x-ray—have been rejected by BCAS.

Source: The Times of India

Flying out of Delhi and Mumbai to get cheaper

NEW DELHI: There’s good news for air travellers. Flying out of Delhi and Mumbai may get cheaper from January 1, 2013, with aviation minister Ajit Singh on Tuesday ordering abolition of airport development fee (ADF) that has been charged from outbound flyers at these two hubs since 2009.

 Mumbai airport levies Rs 100 and Rs 600 on each domestic and international passenger as ADF. Delhi airport charges Rs 200 and Rs 1,300 as ADF from every domestic and international outbound flyer along with a hefty user development fee (UDF) of Rs 196 to Rs 1,068 from all flyers, including incoming ones. The combined impact of these two fees has made Delhi among the most expensive airports in the world for passengers to use.

The government had controversially approved ADF in 2009 to bridge the funding gap of modernization projects at these two airports, ostensibly to allow completion of Delhi’s terminal 3 in time for Commonwealth Games 2010 as Mumbai still remains work in progress. “The expected financing gap in case of Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) will be Rs 4,200 crore while in case of Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL), it will be Rs 1,175 crore if the ADF is abolished from January 1, 2013,” said an aviation ministry statement.

Singh wants this gap to be met through a mix of debt and equity by stakeholders in MIAL and DIAL. Accordingly, the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI), which has a 26% stake in both these projects, will infuse additional equity of Rs 288 crore in MIAL and Rs 102 crore in DIAL.

“If the present funding gap in MIAL and DIAL are met by equity infusion and loans by the promoters including AAI, ADF will stand abolished,” said the statement. Clearly, the best case scenario for passengers is that MIAL and DIAL raise the entire gap through a debt-equity mix after which they no ADF needs to be paid. A failure to do so would see ADF getting reduced proportionately or getting translated into higher airport charges to recover the same.

DIAL indicated this in a statement. “DIAL in consultation with its partners will, at the appropriate time, based on further communication by AERA, if any, take the views of its lenders and equity partners and analyze its financial structure, including ability to raise further debt and equity, and also the consequential increased impact on the aeronautical tariffs and respond appropriately to AERA,” it said.

Minister Ajit Singh had last week asked AAI not to charge ADF at its upcoming new terminals in Chennai and Kolkata. Now these two new airports, along with Mumbai, will levy only UDF as determined by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA). If Delhi and Mumbai airports fail to raise the entire amount, the level of ADF still needed to be charged from next January could be added to UDF charged there or be recovered through higher airport charges.

The levy of steep ADF and UDF has been slammed by almost everyone in the past – the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), passengers and parliamentary committees. A CAG report on DIAL tabled in Parliament three months back had slammed using ADF to fund the soaring project cost that went up 43% from the original Rs 8,975 crore in 2008 to Rs 12,857 crore two years later. The project was proposed to be built through a mix of debt and equity alone with no extra burden on passengers. But with the cost going up, the aviation ministry in 2009 approved the ADF. “This led to undue benefit to DIAL at the cost of passengers who were taxed for using Delhi airport through levy of (A)DF amounting to Rs 3,415.35 crore,” the report said.

Source: The Times of India 

Indigo’s Flights from Pune to Ahmedabad will operate to Vadodara!

Attention all Passengers
From 15th May 2011 to 15th June 2011, Indigo’s Flights from Pune to Ahmedabad will operate to Vadodara, due to runway repair work being undertaken at Ahmedabad Airport between 10AM and 5PM everyday.

Normal flights will resume to Ahmedabad from 16th June 2011 onwards.