New Delhi: The Director General of Civil Aviation has statutory powers to regulate the prices airlines charge for excess baggage, the Delhi high court was told by the government on Wednesday.

This was in response to Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva’s question to the Centre over their 1 July regulation on the basis of which airlines have been asked to charge 100 for baggage in excess of 15 kg as opposed to 200-350 being charged by them earlier.

“Under Section 5A of the Aircraft Act, 1934, the Centre has power to issue directions with regards to regulating tariffs passed by individual airlines. Also, under various circulars issued by the Centre from time to time, they can interfere if they find airlines indulging in predatory or oligopolistic practises." P.S Patwalia, Additional Solicitor General, told the court.

Patwalia also informed the court about a meeting between the Centre and airlines such as Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Indigo on 25 May, where the government sought the views of airlines on charging a nominal fee from passengers with excess baggage between 15-20 kg.

“We have received representations from passengers who have been charged exorbitantly for excess baggage of 1-2 kg by private airlines." he added.

The court was hearing a challenge brought by the Federation of Indian Airlines, a lobby group for India’s airline industry, to the change in tariff fixation by the Centre for excess baggage to 100, in excess of 15 kg allowed by most airlines.

At present, all domestic airlines allow free checked-in baggage of up to 15 kg with the exception of Air India which allows 22 kg. The court will continue to hear the Centre’s arguments on 19 July.

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