Int’l flights from Chandigarh: HC summons civil aviation secy, AAI | punjab$most-popular | Hindustan Times
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Int’l flights from Chandigarh: HC summons civil aviation secy, AAI

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday summoned civil aviation secretary and Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman on May 30 to clarify stand on the delay in start of international operations from the Chandigarh international airport.

punjab Updated: May 25, 2016 13:06 IST
HT Correspondent
The development comes as the Punjab government came out in support of a private petitioner, the Mohali Industries Association, and alleged that ‘someone whose interests will be affected’ with the international operations at the city airport was trying to create ‘mischief’ in Delhi.
The development comes as the Punjab government came out in support of a private petitioner, the Mohali Industries Association, and alleged that ‘someone whose interests will be affected’ with the international operations at the city airport was trying to create ‘mischief’ in Delhi.(HT Photo)

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Tuesday summoned civil aviation secretary and Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman on May 30 to clarify stand on the delay in start of international operations from the Chandigarh international airport.

The development comes as the Punjab government came out in support of a private petitioner, the Mohali Industries Association, and alleged that ‘someone whose interests will be affected’ with the international operations at the city airport was trying to create ‘mischief’ in Delhi.

“Somebody in Delhi is playing a game. Forty per cent of traffic from the Delhi airport goes away (if operations start here). We know who is affected,” Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal said in open court, without mentioning Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), the Delhi airport operator. He hinted the airlines had been “threatened” that if they agreed for operations from the city, their interest will be “harmed” at the Delhi airport. “Time table is the real game. (They have been told) You will be taken care of, if you start flight (from Chandigarh),” he said again without mentioning any name.

In a fresh turn of events on Tuesday over delay in commencement of international flights from the Chandigarh international airport, the high court summoned civil aviation secretary and Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman on May 30.

The development comes as the Punjab government came out in support of the private petitioner, and alleged that “someone whose interests will be affected” with the international operations at the city airport was trying to create “mischief” in Delhi.

Punjab advocate general Ashok Aggarwal lamented before the court that besides `1,400 crore investment on the construction of the airport, a large sum had been spent for allied infrastructure surrounding it, of which major portion falls in Punjab.

“I can’t understand the mystery. Airlines are saying no. Somebody in Delhi is playing a game. Forty per cent of traffic from the Delhi airport goes away (if operations start here). We know who is affected,” Aggarwal said in an open court, without mentioning Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), the Delhi airport operator.

He hinted the airlines had been “threatened” that if they agree for operations from the city, their interest will be “harmed” at the Delhi airport. “Time table is the real game. (They have been told) You will be taken care of, if you start flight (from Chandigarh),” he said again without mentioning any name.

DIAL is joint venture of GMR Group, Airports Authority of India, and Fraport AG and Eraman Malaysia, two foreign firms. Air India had agreed to start international operations on the last date of the hearing, but it could not produce the flights’ schedule as directed by the high court, on Tuesday and was also not represented by a counsel. The AAI counsel was also not present. Another airline, which has agreed for international operations, Indigo Airline, said that a requisite Delhi customs department approval was awaited.

Assistant solicitor general of India, Chetan Mittal, who appeared for the ministry of civil aviation, said the ministry had approached customs authorities at Delhi to grant requisite permission to Indigo to carry duty-free liquor into Delhi from the Chandigarh airport onboard international flight.

Air India had submitted a flight schedule to the AAI. With regard to the aviation policy, the matter was pending with the cabinet secretariat, the Mittal told the high court.

Perturbed over handling of the case, the high court bench of justice SS Saron and justice Gurmit Ram observed that it appeared effective steps had not been taken by the government. “You are getting wrong impression. We are not begging. Only (what) we are saying, public money is involved, it should be accounted for,” the high court observed.

The high court also observed that by commencing operation in Chandigarh, it will help in reducing traffic on Delhi roads and air traffic congestion at the Delhi airport as well.

Later, the court recorded the contention of the petitioner, MIA lawyer, Puneet Bali, that if effective steps will not be taken by the next date of hearing, a CBI or CVC probe should be ordered. The court has now summoned the AAI chairman and the civil aviation secretary to appear on May 30.

The AAI and ministry have also been asked to submit the latest progress reports.