The Delhi high court on Monday asked aviation regulator DGCA to explain how it had arrived at the figure of Rs 100 per kilogramme for checked-in baggage weighing between 15 kg and 20 kg.
“Has the government carried out any exercise to determine how much it would cost the airlines due to excess baggage? How have you arrived at this figure of Rs 100,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva asked while hearing a plea by Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) which has challenged DGCA’s circular fixing the charge for excess baggage between 15-20 kgs.
As per the new regulation effective from July 1, airlines have been asked to charge Rs 100 per extra kg till 20 kg as against their current rates, ranging from Rs 220 to Rs 350.
Currently, all domestic airlines allow free checked-in baggage up to 15 kgs. Only Air India allows free baggage up to 23 kg.
Additional Solicitor General PS Patwalia, appearing for the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), told the court that the government had the interests of consumers in mind and the decision was taken as numerous complaints were received from passengers about high excess baggage fees.
Senior advocate A S Chandhiok, appearing for FIA, opposed the contention saying it was not informed about any complaints received from passengers.
FIA also said that DGCA did not have the jurisdiction to fix tariff as this power lay with the airlines and added that fares were determined by market forces.
It said that DGCA can interfere only when there are specific instances of discriminatory practice and such circulars cannot be issued in a general manner.
FIA also told the court that three of its member airlines -- Jet Airways, SpiceJet and IndiGo, had communicated to DGCA their policy regarding excess baggage charges.
After substantial arguments were made on behalf of FIA, the court listed the matter for further hearing on July 13.
During the hearing, DGCA said it was not fixing tariff, but was rather regulating it.
It said that its circular of June 10 was to come into effect from June 15. However, some airlines had sought an extension on the ground that they needed to modify their ticketing software.
It claimed that the FIA had sent it a representation and also sought further extension as they wanted time to file this petition. This contention was denied by the FIA.
On the last date of hearing, the court had refused to stay the circular or defer the date of its implementation. It had said the amounts charged by the airlines would be restored, if the FIA succeeded.
As per the DGCA, airlines will be free to charge any fee on baggage beyond 20 kg.