New Delhi: Various airlines on Tuesday moved the Delhi High Court against the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India’s permission to the Delhi International Airport Limited for a threefold hike in its aeronautical tariff for the IGI Airport here.
In a joint plea, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), an airlines’ association, alleged the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority’s 24 April order allowing GMR-promoted DIAL to increase the tariff by 345% was unlawful as they have done it without following the basic norms of the regulated sectors like independent audit prudence check.
The FIA said the hike would hamper the financial position of the airlines. “Some airlines may not be able to survive and would be under serious financial stress,” it said. “The decision will make it very difficult for airlines to recover such high tariff particularly in the present-day scenario when economic and financial situation of airlines is bad,” the FIA added.
The petitioner association further submitted that a 345% hike in aeronautical tariff will not be limited to the airport operations and instead will have an adverse impact on India and its economy.
“It will make IGI airport as the most expensive airport in the world,” the FIA said adding that the escalation of tariff will lead to decline in demand of the IGI airport and it will result in fall in tourist arrival, consequently impacting the trade and tourism industry. This step would damage local and international airlines connectivity, the FIA added.
Opposing the airport regulator’s decision, the petition said, “It has led to a situation where the order of the airport regulator, despite being prima facie illegal, the members of petitioner (FIA) will be forced to make such unlawful payment.”
Justice Rajiv Shakdher, before whom the plea came up for hearing on Tuesday asked the FIA to furnish a list of the airlines, which have already paid the aeronautical tariff and who are contesting. The court posted the matter for 5 July for further hearing and asked the government to apprise it of the status of the case pending before the Competition Appellate Tribunal.
The Airport Economic Regulatory Authority of India (AERA) on 24 April, 2012 had permitted DIAL to increase the airport charges for Delhi Airport by 345% for next two years. The authority had also approved the DIAL’s demand for the first time to levy a user development fee (UDF) on all passengers, including those who arrive at the airport.
AERA in its order had hiked the airport charges including landing, parking, and housing charges, User Development Fee (UDF), fuel throughput charges etc. with effect from 15 May, this year.