The recent dismissal of a petition by the Madras High Court could pave the way for Bhadra International, a ground handling support service company at Chennai airport, in securing more contracts from various airlines.

Bhadra provides ground handling support service. However, due to the petition most of the airlines used the services of Air India instead of Bhadra. In Chennai, the company currently has contracts with six passenger airlines and 17 cargo airlines.

“The court’s decision will pave the way for airlines to sign a contract with us,” said a senior official of Bhadra on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

A petition filed by Oveyam Ranjan and Indian Airports Ground Handling Agents Association, Bangalore, sought to quash an AAI order of September 9, 2009, awarding the licence to Bhadra to provide ground handling services in Chennai and Kolkata airports.

They also sought to direct the CBI to hold an inquiry into the issuance of tender for providing comprehensive ground handling services to various domestic and international airlines in both airports and file a report within a timeframe.

Dismissing the petition, a Division Bench noted that the Federation of Indian Airlines and other airline carriers had filed a similar petition in Delhi High Court and the same was dismissed, says a PTI report. The petitioners in contended that eligibility conditions of the tender were altered to suit Bhadra International, a joint venture consortium partnering Novia International Consulting APS of Denmark. AAI, authorities of Chennai and Kolkata airports denied the allegations, says the report. The writ petition was filed in December 2012.

Bhadra bagged the contract through a tender under the ground-handling policy of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. , Bhadra, along with Air India and AAI, were allowed to do ground handling work and airlines were not allowed to appoint their own agency for the work.

The tender was awarded in favour of Bhadra, which has set up the necessary infrastructure at the Chennai airport and signed up with three or four airlines, a senior of a private airline said.

“All the allegations made against us were proved wrong with the High Court ruling, said the official of Bhadra. Due to the case, they were hesitating to sign the agreement,” he said. The official said that the since many of the airlines have a contract with AAI, they need to first terminate it, and sign a fresh contract with Bhadra. This may take some time, he said.

An official of a leading international cargo carrier, who did not want to be quoted in the story, said the airline’s contract with AAI was till March 31. “We will have to wait to hear from our headquarters whether they will renew or terminate the contract with AAI, and switch over to Bhadra,” he said.

raja.simhan@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on March 15, 2013)
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