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Airports

Ownership

What rules govern the ownership of airports (both public and private)?

Airports in India are governed by the Airport Authority of India Act 1994.

Operation

What is the authorisation procedure for the operation of airports?

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has the power to establish airports and assist in the establishment of private airports by rendering technical, financial or other assistance necessary for such purpose. It may lease airport premises to a private operator with prior government approval. The Aircraft Rules provide for licensing of aerodromes.

What ongoing operating requirements apply (including obligations relating to safety, security and facilities maintenance)?

The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) is the regulatory authority for civil aviation security in India. It sets aviation security standards in accordance with Annex 17 to the Chicago Convention of the International Civil Aviation Organisation for airport operators, airline operators and their security agencies responsible for implementing aviation security measures, monitoring the implementation of security rules and regulations and carrying out surveys of security needs. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation has issued civil aviation requirements with regard to safety, security, maintenance and repair organisations.

Airport charges

What airport charges apply and how are they regulated?

In 2008 the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority was established, which regulates:

  • tariff charges;
  • passenger service fees;
  • airport security fees;
  • user development fees; and
  • other charges.

Landing and parking charges are payable to the owner of the airfield. For operations from defence airfields where the AAI has civil enclaves, a separate charge may be payable. Route navigation facilities charges are payable to the organisation which provides these facilities.

Access

What regulations govern access to airports?

The AAI is empowered to make rules and regulations prohibiting or restricting access to any part of the airport or civil enclave. No pilot or person in charge of any aircraft may use any place for regular landings and departures other than a licensed or approved aerodrome. Further, no person other than the occupant of a manoeuvring aircraft may enter the landing area without the consent of the person in charge of the aerodrome. With the exception of passengers embarking, disembarking or in transit who hold air tickets and persons engaged on regular duty, no person may enter or be in the terminal building or any other area of the airport unless he or she holds an admission ticket or entry pass.

Slot allocation

What regime governs the allocation of airport slots (including slot transfer, revocation and disputes)?

Before 2007, the AAI allocated slots to international and domestic airlines. In September 2007 the Ministry of Civil Aviation issued a revised procedure which permitted Delhi and Mumbai airport operators to allocate slots for these airports. Instructions issued in 2011 required domestic airlines to file schedules at least four months in advance. Before the beginning of each season, the AAI and airport operators should publish notices on airport capacities on their websites, so that airlines can plan their schedules accordingly. Where an airline does not use its allocated slot for one month, the slot may be cancelled. Airlines must also disclose unused slots or flights not operated for a considerable period due to commercial reasons. A dispute resolution committee is constituted to deal with any disputes that arise.

Ground handling

How are ground handling services regulated?

An airline operator may carry out ground handling services at an airport or procure the services of the AAI, Air India, Indian Airlines or any other agency licensed by the AAI. However, foreign airlines are not permitted to engage in handling services themselves. No ground handling agency is allowed to work at the airport without obtaining prior security clearance from the BCAS.

The government recently proposed the Ground Handling Services Regulations 2017 (not yet implemented), which essentially provide that all domestic scheduled airline operators (including helicopter operators) would be free to undertake self-handling at all airports including civil enclaves (but foreign airlines would not be allowed). Ground handling agencies having more than 50% foreign direct investment may not undertake ground handling activities at civil enclaves. 

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