Mumbai: The apex organization of private jet operators has approached the airports regulator, challenging the penalty that the Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd (Mial) has imposed on business jets for overstaying and extended use of parking bays.
Beginning 1 July, the GVK group-promoted Mial, which runs the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, had introduced penalty charges ranging between Rs 1,000 and Rs 15,000 per hour, following which private jet operators such as the Tata group, Larsen and Toubro Ltd, Reliance Industries Ltd and Raymond Ltd protested.
Mumbai airport has 28 parking bays with nearly 100 private planes parked since 2007.
“We have filed a petition with the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, or Aera, challenging Mial’s power to impose such penalty charges which are 30-40 times more than parking charges. Despite large unutilized land, Mial has developed only 28 parking bays since 2007,” said Rohit Kapur, president of the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA).
BAOA filed the petition in early August but is yet to get a confirmation whether Aera will take up the case or transfer it to the airport appellate tribunal.
Mint could not reach Aera for a comment despite repeated efforts.
“For enhancing airport safety at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, Mial has introduced a penal charge on non-Mumbai based private aircraft for overstaying their approved time slots from 1 July 2012. This charge is applicable only to non-Mumbai private airplanes and the objective is to enhance airside safety and decongest the already clogged parking space at the land constrained airport,” said a Mial spokesperson in an emailed statement.
The move is to deter private aircraft from using slots allotted to them beyond the stipulated time and discourage unauthorized parking at the airport, it added. “Mial has kept all authorities concerned informed about the same,” the spokesperson pointed out. The penalty charges were introduced following a leading Pune-based company using the parking bay when it brought aircraft for maintenance and stayed for 20 days in June.
Kapur of BAOA said airplane charter companies would close if the penalty charges weren’t revoked. He said more than half the companies that own private jets are based in Mumbai and have to park their planes in the city to fly out to places where they do business.
Kapur said all leading MROs—maintenance, repair and overhaul firms—are located in Mumbai and therefore planes may have to overstay at the airport. He said that infrastructure was among the reasons for a slowdown in the private jet business.
“India’s aviation sector was experiencing 12-13% growth year-on-year since 2003 but it has fallen to 7% in the last financial year. India has the potential for 20-25% growth. But with no parking lots, Indian corporates are finding it difficult to buy and maintain planes,” he said.
Kapur said the Indian corporates are deferring purchases or selling planes. He did not disclose details.
However, Canadian plane maker Bombardier’s latest market forecast for the aviation industry predicts a total delivery of 1,330 business jets to India over the next 20 years. Nilesh Pattanayak, Bombardier South Asia’s managing director (business jets), said his company wasn’t seeing a slowdown. The company is in the process of delivering six private planes to Indian customers, he said, without divulging their names.