Reviving defunct airports tribunal, centre tells court


New Delhi : The central government Tuesday told the Delhi High Court that it has started the process to revive the defunct Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal (AERAAT) which decides tariff disputes.

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Additional Solicitor General Rajiv Mehra, appearing for the civil aviation ministry, informed Justice Sunil Gaur that “action has already been initiated for appointment of the appellate tribunal and the matter is pending before the competent authority that is the cabinet committee”.

The three-member appellate tribunal which was hearing appeals against tariff decisions of regulator Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), became defunct after its initial tenure of two years expired in June.

The government’s response came during the hearing of an appeal of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), an airline industry body, against an April 24 decision of the AERA by which the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) was allowed to have a threefold hike in its aeronautical tariff for the airport here.

The FIA moved the court seeking a stay on the nod to the DIAL to increase threefold the aeronautical tariff collected from the carriers.

The court refused to grant an interim relief to the FIA and posted the matter for further hearing Aug 7.

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 Indira Gandhi International Airport the costliest airport in the world in comparison to Dubai, which is the cheapest.”

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

The FIA alleged that the April 24 order passed by the AERA allowed an unlawful escalation of 345 percent in aeronautical charges without following the basic norms of regulated sectors.

“Some airlines may not be able to survive and would be under serious financial stress,” the FIA said in the petition.

The AERA hiked May 15 the airport charges, including landing, parking and housing charges and user development fee.