HC to hear plea against levy on flights on Feb 1

New Delhi, Jan 4 (IANS) The Delhi High Court on Wednesday posted for February 1 a plea by airline operators against the government’s move to impose a new levy per flight operation to fund a connectivity scheme.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal listed for hearing on February 1 after counsel for petitioner, the Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) said that the matter should be heard as authorities have started demanding money from the airlines.

Under its regional connectivity scheme (RCS), christened as UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik), the government has decided to impose a levy of about Rs 7,500 per flight for travel up to a distance of 1,000 km.

Similarly, the levy per flight journey between 1,000 km and 1,500 km would be Rs 8,000 and for distances above 1,500 km the cess will be Rs 8,500.

The objective of RCS is to enhance air passenger traffic in the country by stimulating demand on regional routes.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) in an affidavit, had said that the scheme was in the long-term interest of the air transport sector and to further widen the penetration of air services in the country.

The FIA, which represents scheduled carriers like Indigo, GoAir, Spicejet and Jet Airways, said the scheme allows it to pass on the levy to the passengers.

“But we cannot pass it on to the passengers, as it is not a fee for which the carriers are rendering any service to the flyers,” a FIA member said.

The petition sought quashing of the October 21 notification inserting the rule for imposing the levy and also the November 9 order announcing the rates of levy and the categories of the scheduled flights on which it would be imposed.

The levy would put a huge financial burden on airlines, said the plea.