Former Air India Executive Director Jitender Bhargava has filed the appeal challenging Competition Commission of India's decision to clear the Jet-Etihad deal without carrying out a detailed assessment.
The tribunal's three-member bench, chaired by Justice V S Sirpurkar, today heard the appeal.
After hearing the matter for over two hours today, the bench posted the matter for further hearing on February 24.
During the hearing today, the bench was repeatedly asking the counsel of Bhargava about his locus standi in filing the appeal.
In November last year, CCI approved Abu Dhabi-based Etihad's acquisition of a 24 per cent stake in Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways. The Commission had said the transaction does not raise concerns of adverse competition issues.
Bhargava contended in his appeal that the CCI failed to carry out an assessment of the appreciable adverse effect on competition and "placed all passengers and indeed the entire airline industry into a grave risk of suffering irreparable damage and permanently eliminating competition".
According to him, if the proposed combination is permitted to be completed in its present form, passengers are likely to be deprived of airline choices on key routes, pay higher prices and have fewer options on aircraft, timings and service quality.
The CCI majority order, passed by its chairman Ashok Chawla and four members, said the Jet-Etihad combination is not likely to have appreciable adverse effect on competition.
However, one CCI member, in his dissenting order, had observed that the deal could adversely affect competition in the international air travel market.