The Supreme Court said on Friday AERAAT should continue to conclude by May 13 a case relating to Delhi International Airport (DIAL) allegedly collecting more than it should by way of airport charges. In February, the Supreme Court directed the tribunal to complete the hearings and pass an order within two months, giving it time till end-April.
Following a change in the rules, the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal (AERAAT) is to be merged with the Telecom Disputes Settlement and Appellate Tribunal. The AERAAT is currently the appellate body for orders passed by the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority and since the last two years it has been unable to decide on a case relating to the downward revision of airport charges by DIAL as directed by AERA.
The dissolution of AERAAT and the transfer of its powers to TDSAT would take a couple of months. Officials said first a notification needs to be prepared, which needs to be ratified by the Union Cabinet. Since tribunals and appellate tribunals are created through an Act of Parliament, an amendment needs to be passed in the House. This can now happen only in the Monsoon session so AERAAT has time to decide on the case.
The case, which got expedited with Air India filing a special leave petition in the SC beginning this year, alleges that DIAL has already collected approximately Rs 7,257 crore from airport charges in under three years, and unless the charges are revised downwards, the excess collections could hit Rs 9,447 crore in another two years.
The DIAL has been able to collect Rs 7,257 crore because the airport charges — landing, parking and users — for 2014-2019 have not been revised downwards as directed by Aera in December 2015. The matter has been pending with AERAAT following a directive by the SC for more than two years now.
The target revenue to be recovered by DIAL between 2014 and 2019 is Rs 7,709.61 crore. However from April 1, 2014 till June 30, 2016, it has already earned a revenue of Rs 7,257.15 crore (approx), which is about 94.13% of the target revenue for the second control period.