Delhi High Court today asked aviation regulator DGCA how the figure of Rs 100 per kg for checked-in excess baggage between 15-20 kgs was reasonable as was contended by it.
“You have not said what is the basis for the figure of Rs 100 per kg,” Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva asked.
“How do you call it reasonable? Why not Rs 75 or Rs 150,” the judge asked after Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P S Patwalia, appearing for DGCA and the Ministry of Civil Aviation, said the Rs 100 figure was chosen as it was “reasonable”.
ASG Patwalia, in response to the queries, also said the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), as an expert body, was competent to arrive at the figure and if the airlines were aggrieved by it, they should have approached it.
He also said that only four airlines had approached the court, all members of the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA), against DGCA’s regulation which came into effect from July 1.
As per the new regulation, airlines have been asked to charge Rs 100 per extra kg till 20 kg as against their current rates, ranging from Rs 220 to Rs 350.
Currently, all domestic carriers allow free checked-in baggage up to 15 kgs. Only Air India allows free baggage up to 23 kg.
During the arguments, the ASG said the different rates charged for excess checked-in baggage by the airlines was discriminatory and warranted interference by DGCA.
The court, however, observed that discrimination would have to be seen vis-a-vis passengers and not airlines and asked what was the material considered by DGCA to come to the conclusion that there was discriminatory pricing.
The ASG said DGCA relied on complaints received by it from passengers to come to the finding relating to discriminatory pricing.
Patwalia also argued that DGCA had the power under the rules to regulate air tariff and it can regulate unbundled services, like selection of seats, booking meals etc, by way of its April 30, 2013 circular under which the services were unbundled and that circular has not been challenged.
(Source : PTI)