'Terror threat behind new ground handling policy'
The civil aviation ministry has defended its new policy to transfer the ground handling services at six airports including Delhi and Mumbai from airline companies to the airport operator.delhi Updated: May 02, 2011 00:58 IST
The civil aviation ministry has defended its new policy to transfer the ground handling services at six airports including Delhi and Mumbai from airline companies to the airport operator. The ministry said ground handling of flights at airports had became a matter of grave concern in the backdrop of international terrorism.
Citing examples of the hijacking of IC 814 in 1999, 9/11 attacks in the United States and incidents of passengers carrying show bombs in UK, the ministry said it was "prudent" to restrict ground handling services only to the airport authority.
In response to an appeal filed by Federation of Indian Airlines, the ministry has said in its affidavit before the Supreme Court, the petitioner comprising domestic carriers were the ones opposing the policy as other airlines were already using agencies designated by the airport operator for ground handling operations.
It also brushed aside the petitioner's claim that the new policy would render large number of the employees working with them without jobs.
According to the figures tendered in the SC, the ministry said the domestic airlines had already outsourced the operators to other sub-contractors.
"As per the data of 2009 available in our records, a total of 15,954 persons are employed by the five domestic airlines (excluding Air India) at the six metro airports. Out of these, only 6,210, that is approximately 39%, are direct employees and the rest 61% are outsourced," the ministry's affidavit said.
It also contested the petitioner's submission that ground handling was an integral and inalienable part of the business. The ministry added even if the activity is assumed to be part of the business, reasonable restrictions could be imposed to guard public interest.
"The central government has decided to carry out the ground handling services by a class of such agencies who are experts in the said job by limiting the number of equipments as well as manpower ...," the ministry stated in its affidavit.