Tuesday, July 24, 2012

NEWS \ Airport tribunal AERAAT would be reconstituted: Centre to Delhi High Court

Centre today informed the Delhi High Court that it has already started the process to revive the defunct Airports Economic Regulatory AuthorityAppellate Tribunal (AERAAT), which decides tariff disputes.

"The action has already been initiated for appointment of the appellate tribunal and the matter is pending before the competent authority, the Cabinet Committee," Additional Solicitor General Rajiv Mehra, appearing for the Civil Aviation Ministry, told Justice Sunil Gaur.

The three-member appellate tribunal, which hears appeals against tariff decisions of regulator Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), is defunct as its initial tenure of two years expired in June this year, leaving the appeals of the DIAL and the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), an industry body that represents airlines, in limbo.

The response of the aviation ministry came during the hearing of FIA's appeal against an April 24 decision of AERA by which the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) was allowed to have a threefold hike in its aeronautical tariff for the IGI Airport here.

Senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the FIA, said, "The order of the AERA be stayed as the exorbitant hike, allowed by it, in the aeronautical tariff has made the IGI Airport as the costliest airport in the world. It added that Dubai airport, on the other hand, is the cheapest.

"The airlines industry, which is going through a bad patch, is finding it difficult to cope up with the pressure and some of the companies may become sick."

The court, which did not grant an interim relief to FIA, has now posted the matter for further hearing on August 7.

The FIA, in its plea, had alleged the AERA's order allowing GMR-promoted DIAL to increase the tariff by 345 percent was "unlawful" as it was increased without following the basic norms of the regulated sectors, like performing independent audit prudence check, to do it.

The hike would hamper the financial position of the airlines and some airlines may not be able to survive and would be under serious financial stress, the petition said.

"It will make IGI airport as the most expensive airport in the world and 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," it said.

The AERA, on 24 April, had permitted DIAL to increase the airport charges for IGI Airport by 345 per cent for next two years.



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