Apex court quashes airport development fees

Apex court quashes airport development fees

New Delhi: In a relief to passengers, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that private developers of the airports at Delhi and Mumbai will henceforth not be allowed to charge airport development fee (ADF) on passengers.

ADF of Rs200 and Rs1,200 for domestic and international flights respectively, was being levied on passengers embarking at Delhi and Mumbai by the private developers.

A bench comprising justices R. V. Raveendran and A. K. Patnaik ruled in favour of Consumer Online Foundation, a non-governmental organization which had filed a public interest case against the levy of the fee on passengers.

The court reasoned that the fee could only be levied by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) under the law and not by private companies like the GMR Group, which built and currently operates the Delhi airport and similarly, the GVK Group in Mumbai.

Under the agreement with AAI, GMR and GVK are supposed to build, operate and transfer the airports at Delhi and Mumbai, back to the government after 30 years. In order to compensate the private companies for their expenses and investments in the development of the airports, the AAI allotted them land in the vicinity of the airport.

“In lieu of their expenses they were given land near the airports. Still they charged the fee on passengers. That’s why we moved the courts," said Prashant Kumar, lawyer for Consumer Online Foundation, who had originally petitioned the Delhi high court, but had to appeal to the apex court after the PIL was dismissed.