DIAL defers charging fee on in-flight food & drinks

New Delhi: Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) today agreed in Delhi High Court to defer till February 8, its decision to charge a fee on in-flight food and beverages provided by private airlines like Spicejet, Indigo, Goair and Jet Airways.

DIAL gave this oral assurance before Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva who issued notice to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, DIAL, Airports Authority of India (AAI) and four flight kitchen operators -- Oberoi Flight Services, Taj Sats Air Catering Ltd, Ambassador (SkyChef) and Sky Gourmet Catering Pvt Ltd -- and sought their replies on a plea by Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) against the levy of 16 per cent fee on the cost price of food and beverages procured by the carriers.

It asked the airlines to provide a copy of their food procurement agreement and the agreements they have with the various flight caterers to provide in-flight refreshments.

FIA, which represents Spicejet, Indigo, Goair and Jet Airways, has claimed that as per the letter of November 11, the in-flight kitchen operators had to pay the fees to DIAL with effect from November 15.

Another letter of December 1, 2016, which too has been challenged by FIA, had said that DIAL will not allow inside the IGI Airport any flight catering vehicle carrying items procured outside.

FIA, represented by senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, has contended that DIALs actions will have a direct impact on the airlines as the in-flight kitchen operators will recover the charges from them and this in turn will affect the air fares.

DIAL, represented by senior advocate Arvind Nigam, said the airlines cannot carry on the business of flight catering.

He contended that once the agreements are perused, it might turn out that the airlines were procuring food through their sister concerns.

The judge asked FIA to provide copies of its agreements to DIAL after redacting the confidential portions, but to file unedited copies in a sealed cover before the court and listed the matter for further hearing on February 8. DIAL agreed to defer its decision till then.

In its petition, FIA has said that DIAL was already charging a fee from the flight caterers for allowing their vehicles to enter the airport and its latest decision to deny entry to them "amounts to abuse of dominant position". PTI