Umroi Airport Case: What the Meghalaya High Court found “disturbing” and “disgusting”

Umroi Airport Case: What the Meghalaya High Court found “disturbing” and “disgusting”

Aditi Singh

The Meghalaya High Court has expressed its displeasure over the fact that Airliners have reservations in operating flights to Umroi airport in Meghalaya.

The Court found it “disturbing” and “disgusting” that it was not informed about the same when proceedings in a public interest litigation petition concerning operationalisation of Umroi airport was initiated.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice HS Thangkhiew was hearing a petition seeking operation of flights from Umroi Airport to other metros including Delhi.

While the Airport Authority of India (AAI) informed the Meghalaya High Court that Umroi airport “in all respects is ready for operation“, the Ministry of Civil Aviation stated that “the possibility” of operating flights to/from Shillong has to be explored by the Airliners.

The Court was informed by the AAI that ATR 72-600 and Bombardier-Q400 aircrafts could operate between Umroi airport and Delhi airport. However, the commercial viability of their operation was entirely within the domain of airliners, AAI stated.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation, through its affidavit, informed the Court that the airliners would explore “the possibility” to operate flights from Delhi to Shillong and vice versa, based on the technical and financial viabilities.

Expressing its displeasure over the situation, the Court remarked,

It is quite disturbing and disgusting, after reaching to a point when Umroi airport as stated by AAI is fit for operation, airliners have reservations, this situation was not brought to the notice of the Court when the proceedings in Public Interest Litigation (PIL) were initiated.

After being confronted with the entire scenario, AAI sought two weeks’ time from Court to explore the viable possibility of connecting Shillong with metros, more particularly Delhi, in consultation with the Ministry of Civil Aviation the airliners.

It was further vouched that the possibility of the operation of Indigo’s ATR 72-600 aircraft and Spice Jet’s Bombardier-Q400 aircraft would also be explored.

The Court was also informed that Air India and Zoom Airways were operating CR Jets from Guwahati to Delhi with a flying time of 2 hours and 15 minutes.

Therefore, if the two airliners agree to operate on the Umroi-Delhi route, the operation would be “more convenient” because of their lesser flying time, Court was told.

The Court thus directed Zoom Airways and Air India to file their respective responses about the operation of CR Jets from Delhi to Umroi airport.

Importantly, the Court directed the AAI and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to come up with a concrete plan on the operation of CR Jets or ATR 47, ATR 72-600 and Bombardier-Q400 aircraft to/from Umroi airport.

The Court has granted two weeks’ time to the Ministry of Civil Aviation and AAI to hold meetings with all stakeholders including the two airliners which possess CR Jets, Air India and Zoom Airways, for the same.

Pursuant to the Court’s order, Ministry of Civil Aviation and AAI will file an affidavit detailing the ‘preparation of the plan’ before the next date of hearing.

The Respondents were represented by Advocate General A Kumar, ASG A Paul with Advocates K Paul, PD Nair, S Jindal and  A Sharma. 

P Yobin is the Amicus Curiae in the case.

The matter would be heard next on April 3, 2019.

Read the order:

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news