Ground-handling taken away from airlines due to security:govt

Appearing for the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium told the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Manmohan that the presence of a large number of employees from various airlines create not only chaos but also security concern in airports.

Referring to the recommendations of Bureau of Civil Aviation Security(BCAS), he said "security cannot be down graded for commerce. The government wants to adopt modern ground-handling system to avoid chaos in airports".

The senior law officer would submit before the court tomorrow the relevant documents of BCAS and resume his argument.

The counsel for Federation of Indian Airlines had earlier submitted that the June 2 notification issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) prohibiting the airlines from undertaking ground-handling services is contrary to law and it should be set aside.

With the implementation of the new policy, the private airlines have to retrench their own employees who have been handling the service. They are important part of airlines business, the counsel had argued.

The policy is to be implemented from January next year and ground handling services would be undertaken by the Airport Authority of India(AAI) itself or the agencies selected by airport operators.

Filing a petition, the airlines have claimed that they themselves could efficiently manage ground-handling services for their aircraft, which they are doing now, and sought the court to declare the government's new policy as null and void as it would hamper their business interests.

The ground-handling policy, announced in 2007, aims at bringing down the number of agencies handling the job at six major airports in the country to three. However, the implementation of the policy has been deferred twice.

On June 2, 2010, DGCA had modified its order and extended its deadline to December 31, 2010, allowing the private airlines to continue ground-handling services by themselves.
Ground-handling activities range from passenger check-ins, baggage and cargo handling at the terminal side to cleaning and refueling of air planes. 

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