The Delhi High Court today asked the Delhi airport operator, DIAL, the basis for its decision to partially shift operations of three domestic airlines -- Indigo, SpiceJet and GoAir -- from Terminal 1 to 2. Justice A K Chawla asked the Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) whether it had carried out any scientific study prior to coming to the decision which has been challenged in the high court by low-cost airline IndiGo. DIAL, represented by senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, told the court the decision was taken based on an internal assessment carried out by it and was "not a knee-jerk reaction". Thereafter, the court asked DIAL to place the internal assessment report before it in a sealed cover in three days and listed the matter for further hearing on November 24. IndiGo, represented by senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, has challenged DIAL's communication dated October 21, 2017, asking the airlines to shift their flights to and from Delhi to Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, to Terminal 2 (T2) from January 4, 2018. All other flights of the airlines shall continue to operate from Terminal 1 (T1) as per the DIAL communication. The low=-cost airline has contended that partial shifting of its operations would inconvenience passengers, especially those on hopping flights emanating or ending at those sectors, as T1 and T2 are not connected. It claimed it had given several alternative proposals, including giving the entire T1 exclusively to it, and shifting the other two carriers to T2, but these were not considered by DIAL. The central government, represented by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said the decision was taken as T1 had to be expanded. He also said the petition would not be maintainable as DIAL's decision was an executive decision in which the courts ought not to interfere. The court, however, said that executive decisions can be looked into if there are allegations of arbitrariness as has been claimed by IndiGo in the instant case. During the nearly two-hour long arguments, Nayar said that DIAL had in January this year proposed to partially relocate the operations of the three airlines to T2, but had waited till October to give the carriers time to arrive at a consensus. He said that GoAir has accepted DIAL's decision and shifted its entire operations to T2, while SpiceJet has not yet moved the court and therefore, IndiGo appeared to be the only one aggrieved by the decision. DIAL argued that T1 has already exceeded its capacity and in public interest it needs to be expanded and therefore, the individual interest of IndiGo cannot prevail. Nayar further said that capacity of the three airlines' flights to and from the three sectors would amount to around eight million persons per annum (MPPA) and shifting those to T2 would considerably reduce the burden on T1. He said that DIAL's decision was not unreasonable as it gave the airlines enough time to arrive at a consensus. He also claimed that the decision was not arbitrary as all three airlines were asked to partially shift their operations to T2. DIAL also contended that IndiGo had no legal right to claim that it be not shifted out of T1. It told the court that IndiGo was still issuing tickets to passengers for the sectors of Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai indicating their point of departure/arrival as T1 for flights after January 4, 2018. To this, the court said that it was a risk the airline was taking.
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