The legal tussle between the Delhi International Airport Pvt Ltd (DIAL) and government agency Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) over the former levying 96 per cent higher charges on airlines, resulting in increased flight fares, is finally over.
According to a Times of India report, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed the long-standing tussle be resolved by April-end, which means that it passengers would no longer have to shell out the extra money for flying in and out of Delhi.
In December 2015, AERA had slashed Delhi Airport charges by a steep 96 per cent for the period April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2019 (second control period). However, DIAL continues to charge higher tariffs as approved during the first control period — April 1, 2009, to March 31, 2014.
AERA had consequently filed a petition with the AERA Appellate Tribunal (AERAAT) on the issue. The Supreme Court was roped in after Air India filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) on January 24 this year, in light of a “delay” in the verdict of AERA’s petition, due to “frequent disbandment and reconstitution”.
“DIAL has been unjustly enriched by Rs 7,257.15 crore approximately on account of revenue generated from tariff charges for the period starting from April 1, 2014, till June 30, 2016... DIAL is currently recovering Rs 300 crore (approximately) per month, and if it is permitted to continue doing so... then by the end of the second control period (March 2019) there would be a total collection of Rs 17,157.15 crore (approximately) as against target revenue of Rs 7,709.61 crore, straightaway leading to excess collection of Rs 9,447.54 crore over and above target revenue,” Times of India quoted Air India’s SLP as saying.
On February 23, a two-Judge bench of the Supreme Court heard AI's petition. The apex court then passed this order: “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, we request the AERA Tribunal to take up the matter at an early date so as to dispose of the same within a period of two months from today. As prayed, list the matter in the last week of April, 2017”.