IndiGo moves SC against Meghalaya HC order to make airport operational in Shillong

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New Delhi | Published: December 13, 2018 3:44:15 AM

Budget airline IndiGo’s parent company, InterGlobe Aviation, on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the last week’s order of the Meghalaya High Court that asked it to finalise within a week the date of commencing flying operations to the state’s Umroi Airport at Shillong.

indigo, aviation sector, aviation industryAccording to IndiGo, the Shillong airport can be used for landing only when visibility is 5,000 metres or more.

Budget airline IndiGo’s parent company, InterGlobe Aviation, on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the last week’s order of the Meghalaya High Court that asked it to finalise within a week the date of commencing flying operations to the state’s Umroi Airport at Shillong.

Challenging the December 7 order of the high court, the largest Indian airline by market share said the Meghalaya airport lacks facilities for big aircraft and firefighting. Due to high obstacles around Shillong airport, airlines cannot take full-load capacity during summer and winters, it said.

In a suo-moto petition, the HC had directed the Director General of Civil Aviation as well as the secretary, ministry of civil aviation, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman to convene a meeting and take a final decision in seven days as to from which date flight will start operating from Umroi airport.

“In default in taking such decision, the secretary, ministry of civil aviation, chairman AAI and CEOs/CMDs (chief executive officers/chairman and managing directors) of respective airliners shall have to remain personally present before the court on December 14 and explain why decision for operating flights for Umroi airport has not been taken,” the HC said in its December 7 order.
InterGlobe Aviation, which predominantly operates Airbus A-320 and ATR 72-600 aircraft, said the Shillong airport was equipped with the airport fire category of CAT4 whereas IndiGo requires CAT5 for operating its ATR 72-600.

“This requirement is mandated under ICAO Volume 1 Annexure 14. Airport fire category of CAT5 depend upon the length and breadth of the aircraft. Each category also depends from the volume of the fire extinguisher foam required to be available at the airport for each type of the aircraft. Even parking stands for the aircraft are only two in number and the same are only compatible for aircraft ATR-42 and not for ATR 72-600, which is also part of IndiGo’s fleet,” the appeal stated.

According to IndiGo, the Shillong airport can be used for landing only when visibility is 5,000 metres or more. “Thereafter, such is a Visual Flight Route (VFR) airport can only be used in day time. To enable commercial operations, Shillong airport needs to be converted to IFR (Instrument Flight Route) airport to be used even in night,” stated the budget airline, which claims to operate 1,200 flights per day and flying over 200 million passengers.

It further said, “There is no statutory obligation or function which the airline is carrying out or expected to carry out.”

“The decisions as to operationalising airlines and starting routes for a particular sector or airport are purely based upon the operational capability of any airport, commercial feasibility, availability of aircrafts, availability of routes and slots, and other factors. Airlines have to decide such issues on the basis of the multiple factors which are inherently complex and require sufficient amount of time, study and process,” according to the petition.

IndiGo submitted that it was already operating flights from seven different airport within the Northeast region and was operating average weekly departures and arrival to the tune of 425 flights.

Also read: IndiGo CEO-designate Gregory Taylor may be on his way out

“The HC has failed to consider the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RSC) of the AAI, which recognises the Shillong airport as an ‘Underserved Airport’. As per the RCS, the airlines are open to bid for RSC operations at the Shillong airport under the scheme. Therefore, the airport operations at the Shillong airport are already under consideration with AAI under the RCS scheme,” it added.

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