SC notice to DIAL, AAI & min over airport fee

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | New Delhi | Updated: Jul 21 2012, 06:31am hrs
Terming the airport development fee (ADF), collected by the GMR-led DIAL from passengers, as a little unreasonable, the Supreme Court has sought reply from the developer and others as to why the levy at the IGI Airport should not be scrapped.

DIAL charges R200 and R1,300 per embarking domestic and international passengers, respectively, at the Indira Gandhi International Airport.

A Bench headed Justice DK Jain, while issuing notice to the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority, the ministry of civil aviation, Delhi International Airport (DIAL) and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), observed that such levy was unreasonable and only VIP passengers be charged, as abroad, for use of special lounges, instead of burdening common travellers.

In many airports (abroad), such a huge amount of fee is charged for VIP rooms. In London, they charge 400 pounds per passenger for a small room in VIP lounge, why can't you reciprocate here it said.

Instead of burdening our passengers, can we also not charge such fees, particularly in the peak seasons during vacations like June when VIP travellers go abroad If we have to pay in pounds in London, why can't they pay in rupees here Our airports are excellent compared to many of other airports, the Bench added, while taking note of the submission that due to the esclation in project cost, the levy was imposed to bridge a gap of R1,230 crore.

It said the development fee, which DIAL started levying since March 2009, will be credited with AAI and will be kept in a separate account for future development and, thus, the gap would be bridged for future projection.

The observations came on a petition filed by Consumer Online Foundation (COF), an NGO, alleging that such illegal levy and collection of ADF at the Airport, amounting to thousands of crores, should be struck down as the same was quashed by the apex court in April 26 last year, but was allowed by the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal.

Questioning AERA's authority in determining ADF on private entity DIAL's plea, the NGO had challenged tribunal's order that dismissed its plea on the ground of delay in filing the appeal.

The petition fild thorough AP&J Chambers said it is AAI which can levy and collect ADF and DIAL cannot assume such powers.

AERA in November last year had affirmed the levy, which was endorsed by the ministry of civil aviation in February 2009.