The Punjab and Haryana high court on Thursday allowed airlines to carry out ground handling at the Chandigarh International Airport. The decision of HC bench of justice RK Jain came on a petition of the Airlines Federation, comprising IndiGo, Jet Airways, JetLite, SpiceJet and GoAir, who had challenged the Chandigarh International Airport Ltd’s (CHIAL) decision of awarding ground handling work to the Air India Air Transport Services Limited (AIATSL), an Air India subsidiary.
The HC bench termed the contract given to the AIATSL for entire ground handling services by ousting the airlines to selfhandle their ground-handling operations as “illegal, arbitrary, unreasonable and unconstitutional”.
However, it made clear that the Aircraft Operators Aviation Security (AVSEC) functions specified by the Bureau of the Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) shall be performed by the bonafide whole time employees of the airlines.
“Other ground-handling operations can be outsourced by the airlines from the groundhandling agencies, specifically permitted in writing by the AAI to undertake ground-handling activities through their bonafide whole-time employees,” the HC bench stated.
AVSEC functions include access control to the aircraft, aircraft security search/security check during normal as well as bomb threat situation, secondary checks at ladder point of aircraft, security control of express cargo, courier bags, cargo, company stores, parcels, mail bags and escorting up to aircraft.
Earlier this year, the CHIAL had required the airlines to contact the Air India Air Transport Services Limited to undertake their ground-handling operations and had refused to allot any space to undertake groundhandling activities to private airlines.
Days before the new terminal was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 11, the CHIAL decision was challenged in the HC. The operations from the new terminal will start in October. The ground handling operations include check-in, luggage handling, aircraft cleaning, its servicing, food loading and unloading, beverages and cargo handling.