Mumbai International Airport Limited has collected close to Rs 4 crore in penalty from private jet owners in a measure to decongest the airport. The penalty was levied on jet owners whose planes were parked beyond the stipulated time limit.
The fine was approved by the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority but has been challenged in the AERA's appellate tribunal by the Business Aircraft Operators Association (BAOA). The tribunal will take a decision on the matter next month.
The penalty ranges from Rs 1000-15,000 per hour beyond permissible limit and varies depending on plane type. GVK-group run Mumbai International Airport Limited began levying penalty on private planes overstaying at airport from last July leading to immediate protests over the stiff charges. MIAL argued that the penalty was necessary to de congest the airport. MIAL collected Rs 3.89 crore from jet owners till December for over 14,000 hours of excess parking, according to the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority order which approved the levy.
In certain instances the penalty was levied for one extra hour of parking beyond stipulated time and in some cases it stretched beyond a month. Corporate houses, non scheduled operators and charter companies from India and abroad are amongst those which paid the penalty. The airport operator pointed out that ever since the introduction of charge number of planes overstaying in Mumbai had dropped and reduced the overcrowding. It said the number of planes overstaying in Mumbai came down from 21 to 3 in six months. "The need for imposition of such a penal charge is purely an operational safety requirement and not a source of revenue generation. It is solely intended to decongest the airport and enhance the safety,'' MIAL said in its submission to AERA.. The penalty was levied on those planes whose base was not Mumbai but would be parked here beyond stipulated 48-72 hours of stipulated parking time. In its appeal before the appellate tribunal BAOA argued that the order passed by AERA is completely devoid of merits and it has simply accepted the tariff card and penal charges imposed by MIAL retrospectively, which is inherently contrary to the law. BAOA further submitted that DGCA has already confirmed that there is no violation on the part of general aviation aircraft (private or charter planes) even if they are not parked in their usual station, since the registration granted by DGCA is on pan-India basis. The association also submitted that if there is no violation there cannot be any penal charges.