Government defends airport development fee

NEW DELHI - The government Wednesday justified its stand on collecting airport development fee (ADF) from passengers departing from Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International airport and told the Delhi High Court that it was well within law.

Appearing for the government, Solicitor General Gopal Subrahmaniam submitted before a division bench of Chief Justice Ajit Prakash Shah and Justice Manmohan that development of airports is a private initiative and therefore charging fees is not wrong and well within the law.

The airport is to develop the area surrounding it and the existing Airport Authority Act allows various airports to charge the ADF, he added.

Appearing for Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), senior counsel Harish Salve contented: If passengers are using the facilities at the airport which is developed by the airport then why can’t fees be levied on the passengers?

When we can charge the airline companies for using landing, housing and parking facilities then why can’t we charge the passengers for using the other services at the airport, Salve added, citing various provisions of the Airport Act and justifying the fees as well within the law.

The court was hearing a public interest petition challenging the ADF that consists of Rs.200 cess on all outgoing domestic passengers and Rs.1,300 on international ones since March 1, 2009.

Apart from alleging that the money being charged for airport development work was “placing undue burden on travelling public”, the petition also argues that in return for the payment the passenger is not being offered any extra facility or value by Delhi International Authority Limited (DIAL).

“There should be some co-relation with the value being offered to public in return for ADF,” the petitioners contended.

In March, the government asked all airlines flying out of Delhi to collect a development fee from the passengers while issuing air tickets and not when they are checking in at the airport.

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