AIAS undertakes ground handling services at Chennai airport

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on July 07, 2021

A view of Chennai airport   -  Velankanni Raj B

Madras HC recently dismissed existing agent Bhadra International’s petition

Air India Airports Services Ltd (AIAS) has started undertaking ground handling services at Chennai airport from July 1 after the Madras High Court recently dismissed the existing Ground Handling Agents (GHA) Bhadra International’s petition for renewal of entry passes for its employees at Chennai and Kolkata airports.

On December 22, the Airports Authority of India Cargo Logistics & Allied Services, a 100 per cent subsidiary of AAI, had announced that AIAS Ltd will start providing ground handling services from January 1 as an interim arrangement.

Bhadra was granted licence to carry on the ground handling services to interested airlines at Chennai for ten years from September 23, 2010, to September 22, 2020. However, the licence was not extended. The company filed a petition in the High Court for quashing AAI’s order, and renewing the entry passes for its employees.

After hearing the submissions made by both the parties, Justice M Govindaraj, on June 16, dismissed Bhadra’s writ petition as not maintainable.

The licence agreement makes it very clear that it is a determinable one. Once it is determined in accordance with the contractual terms, it is always open to the parties to the agreement to challenge the same as per the terms and conditions provided in the agreement.

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‘No locus standi’

The contention of Bhadra’s Counsel that it is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution cannot be accepted for the reason that the petitioner’s licence agreement by itself lapsed on September 22, 2020. Bhadra did not challenge the termination notice given by the respondents on February 12, 2018, which was periodically extended after termination of the License licence.

Having failed to challenge the termination and having failed to submit his bid to participate in the tender process, the petitioner cannot complain of violation of equality. The petitioner has not chosen to participate in the tender process and therefore cannot claim any equal treatment. The petitioner is not entitled to complain of hardship caused to the passengers or airlines. If at all the airlines have any grievance over the deficiency in service provided by the second respondent, it is open to them to raise litigations against the second respondent — AAI — or the deficiency of the service provider.

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The petitioner has no locus standi to complain about the violation of Regulation 3(4) of the 2018 Regulations in the writ petition filed in respect of grant of airport entry passes and to continue its operations under the second respondent. Therefore, there is no locus standi to the petitioner to maintain the writ petition, the Order said.

As submitted by the respondents, regular GHA had already been appointed on January 12, 2021, and the Letter of Intent of Award was also issued. In such circumstances, the writ petition by itself becomes infructuous. Therefore also, the petitioner is not entitled to the relief sought for by them as they have no locus standi as well as legal right to continue as a Licensee under the second respondent.

“I find no merits in the claim made by the petitioner and accordingly, the writ petition is dismissed. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petitions are closed,” the order said.

Bhadra at its peak of operations had around 1,000 employees. AAI had already recruited around 600 employees, including Bhadra’s labour force, and plans to expand in the coming days, said officials in the know.

Published on July 07, 2021

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