The Delhi High Court on Tuesday upheld its order which dismissed airline IndiGo's plea against DIAL's decision to shift a part of its operations from Terminal 1 to the newly-opened Terminal 2 of the IGI here.
The court's direction came while hearing an appeal filed by IndiGo, India's biggest private airline by market share, challenging the single-judge order of December 20, 2017, upholding Delhi International Airport Ltd's (DIAL) decision related to shifting a part of the airline's operations to a new terminal of the Indira Gandhi International Airport.
A bench of Justice Hima Kohli and Rekha Palli observed that the decision of DIAL cannot be said unreasonable only because it may operate harshly against IndiGo and ruled that "when public interest competes with private interest, then the latter has to give way to public interest".
"In the present case, public interest lies in expediting the redevelopment activity at T-1, which is a purely administrative decision," the court said while pointing out to delay in renovation work.
"It is not as if IndiGo, and for that matter, SpiceJet and GoAir have been banished forever from T-1. If we may twist the American idiom, 'My way or the Highway' to fit the present context, then the IndiGo cannot be heard to say that it is either their way, or the runway," the court said.
"IndiGo are tending to forget that this part relocation from T-1 to T-2 proposed by the DIAL is only a temporary measure and once T-1 is renovated and commences its operations after capacity building, all the airlines can operate from there full throttle and take wings."
However, the division granted a last opportunity of one week to IndiGo and SpiceJet to approach DIAL to suggest other sectors that they would be ready and willing to shift from T-1 to T-2, as long as they collectively meet the yardstick of one-third passenger traffic volumes of their operations at T-1.
"In the event such a request is received by the DIAL within the stipulated timeline, the same shall be considered and a decision taken under written intimation to both the airlines within one week from the date of receipt," the court said.
"If no such request is received within the stipulated timeline, then DIAL shall fix a deadline for shifting one-third of the flight operations of the concerned airlines from T-1 to T-2, under written intimation to them."
On December 20, 2017, a single judge bench had rejected IndiGo's plea.
"We are of the opinion that there is no illegality, arbitrariness or infirmity in the impugned judgment (December 20 order) that warrants interference. Moreover, the learned Single Judge has gone to the extent of watering down the option given by DIAL to IndiGo and SpiceJet by directing that in the event they make a request to shift one third of their operations by excluding the three identified sectors, i.e., Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, they may do so within one week from the date of the judgment," the division bench said.
The court held that "logistics are aspects that need expertise in the technical field and have attendant financial and administrative dimensions of serious magnitude, apart from other practical considerations, best left to be handled by experts".
DIAL, which operates the airport here, had asked three airlines operating from T-1 to shift a third of their flights to T-2 to enable it to expand the terminal to meet growing passenger traffic.
Defending its decision, DIAL had said T-1 had already exceeded its capacity and if airline operations were not shifted partially, it would lead to overcrowding of the airport.
DIAL had said the safety and security of passengers was its primary responsibility and in case of fire or a terror threat, an overcrowded airport would lead to serious consequences for which it alone would be answerable, not the airlines.
IndiGo contended that shifting partially from T-1 to T-2 would result in confusion and cause inconvenience to passengers. By this decision, IndiGo will be spread across three terminals as it operates international flights from Terminal 3 (T-3).
Seeking quashing of DIAL's decision, IndiGo said the decision would strain its operations and proposed an alternative solution of giving the entire T-1 exclusively to it and shifting the other two carriers to T-2.
The DIAL had directed IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir to relocate their operations in "parts" and split their operations by shifting flights to and from some sectors, namely Mumbai, Kolkata and Bengaluru, to T-2.
It also said that the capacity of the three airlines to and from the three sectors would amount to around eight million persons per annum and shifting those to T-2 would considerably reduce the burden on T-1.
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