CCI by its order dated January 1, 2016 dismissed a case against KIAB and AAI for alleged abuse of its dominant position.

The case was filed by Turbo Aviation Pvt. Ltd.(TAPL) engaged in providing ground handling services(GHS) to various domestic airlines and services for chartering of aircraft. BIAL is engaged in the operation and maintenance of

Kempegowda International Airport, Bengaluru (KIAB). AAI is a statutory authority established under Airports Authority of India Act, 1994 and is responsible for development, finance, operation, and maintenance of airports.

TAPL alleged that citing security reasons and congestion at KIAB, BIAL has refused to allow it offer self-handling of GHS for its “TruJet” flight operations andno explanation has been provided as to how self-handling of GHS by the TAPL would cause security problems and congestion at KIAB. It is averred that BIAL, without showing any willingness to resolve the issue, has simply asked `the Informant to negotiate the rate with the existing GHS agencies at KIAB. This, as per TAPL, amounts to abuse of dominant position in contravention of the provisions of Section4of the Act.

The CCI, considering the relevant market as the “market for the provision of ground handling services at Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru.”. The CCI considered that BIAL group enterprises enjoy complete discretion in matters relating to handling of aircrafts, passengers, baggages, and cargos at KIAB and hence is in a dominant position.

CCI noted that self-handling of GHS at KIAB has been proscribed under the GHS Regulations. Further, the DGCA’s circular on GHS also prohibits self-handling of GHS at KIAB and other metropolitan airports. It is pertinent to note that the number of GHS providers at each of the metropolitan airports has been determined by the Central Government having regard to the demand for GHS, available infrastructure and competitive environment.

CCI noted that the TAPL has not submitted any documentary evidence while making allegation of excessive pricing. It may also be pointed out that neither the Informant has alleged nor has it provided any cogent material showing bias in the selection process of other GHS providers at KIAB.

The case has been dismissed at the prima-facie stage. The CCI held that mere refusal of permission to GHS for operation at KIAB cannot considered violation of Section 4(2)(b) and 4(2)(c) of the Act by the KIAB and AAI.

(Source: CCI Order dated January 1, 2016.For full text see CCI website)