In an application filed by the Business Aircrafts Operators Association (‘BAOA”), the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Appellate Tribunal (the Appellate Tribunal) today stayed the unilateral and exorbitant penal parking charges imposed by Mumbai International Airport Private Limited (MIAL) for General Aviation aircrafts in Mumbai. This incidentally happens to be the first ever application before the Appellate Tribunal invoking its original jurisdiction.
Poor infrastructure, lack of any planning for the future and tough economic conditions are already hampering the growth of general aviation industry in India. In the absence of any road map to address the growing concerns on infrastructure and other facilities for the general aviation industry, the MIAL decided to unilaterally increase and impose parking charges, fifty times higher than the usual hourly parking charges on the general aviation aircrafts in Mumbai. The disputes arose between the parties when MIAL unilaterally decided to levy and impose exorbitant parking charges since 1st July 2012, without seeking any approval and sanction from the Regulator, the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA ) constituted under the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority Act, 2008.
The BAOA acting on behalf of its members filed a detailed representation challenging such imposition by MIAL before the Regulator; AERA on 1st August, 2012 following which, various meetings and discussions ensued between the Regulator and BAOA. However, despite the representation and matter being under consultation before the Regulator, MIAL continued to levy the penal parking charges. Accordingly, BAOA filed its application before the Appellate Tribunal and sought urgent interim reliefs.
Clasis Law acted for BAOA before the Appellate Tribunal and sought the status quo to be maintained on the parking charges till such time, MIAL has received the necessary approval and sanction from the Regulator. The BAOA argued that the parking charges form part of aeronautical services and any increase in tariff to be charged for aeronautical services falls within the jurisdiction of the Regulator, AERA. It further submitted that MIAL is fully aware of this fact and had approached the Regulator seeking its approval and sanction for such imposition. However, even before the Regulator, could approve or decide on the increase in parking charges proposed by MIAL; MIAL unilaterally decided to impose the so called ‘penal charges’ on general aviation aircrafts since 1st July, 2012.
The counsel appearing for MIAL sought time to seek instructions in the matter.
After hearing the parties, the Appellate Tribunal was pleased to direct the parties to maintain status on the parking charges and directed MIAL to charges the parking charges as were approved by the Airport Authority of India for general aviation aircrafts for Mumbai Airport and has posted the matter for hearing on 4th January, 2013.
“This has come as a big relief for the general aviation which is already struggling in these tough economic conditions”, said Mr Rohit Kapur, President of the BAOA. He however refused to make any further comments to the media, citing that the matter is subjudice.