The Central government’s plan to create a fund under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme by levying Rs 7500 to Rs 8500 per flight operated by Indian airlines; to develop airports in smaller towns and cities, was challenged in the Delhi High Court today when the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) filed a petition so as to know the government’s stand on the matter.
A notice was issued to Ministry of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) by a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal who sought their replies by December 21; as the levy will be chargable from December 1. Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) explains that the scheme allows them to pass on the levy to the passengers, which they regret imposing as it is not a fee for which their airlines are rendering services to the passengers.
The FIA represents air carriers like Indigo, GoAir, SpiceJet and Jet Airways, have sought suppressing of the October 21 notification and the November 9 orders that declared the rates of levy and the categories of the scheduled flights on which they would be imposed.
FIA’s senior representative advocate Arvind P Datar, told moneycontrol that the levy would put “immense financial burden”, estimated to be between Rs 388 crore to Rs 532 crore or more pa. and sought orders prohibiting the Airports Authority of India (AAI) from collecting the levy.
He added that if this financial burden was passed on to the flyers, it would lead to an increase in indirect tax, which would function as per the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP). The UDAN scheme, according to the Centre, plans to connect small cities by air and make flying more affordable for a middle-class Indian.