Entry to airport Court declares fee illegal

Published Jun 20, 2013 08:42am

RAWALPINDI, June 19: The Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi Bench, while deciding a public interest petition on Wednesday, declared the entry fee at Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) Islamabad illegal.

In 2007, Rs20 had been introduced as entry fee for every person by the civil aviation authority (CAA) contractor Khawar&Co.

In August 2011, Barrister Sajjad Ahmad Satti, through public interest litigation, had challenged the airport’s entry fee levied on people arriving at the airport to see off their relatives and friends.

Legal counsel for the petitioner, Raja Saimul Haq Satti advocate, contended before the court that the tender for collection of airport entry fee had been awarded to a non-registered Gujrat-based firm (Khawar&Co).

The tender was awarded for a period of six months, but the firm had continued levying the fee since 2007 and no audit of the firm had ever been done.

Initially, the company had been awarded a contract with the condition that it would deposit Rs85,000 with the CAA, but later the amount had been reduced to Rs76,000.

The petitioner Sajjad Satti had cited the ministry of defense, chairman CAA, Director General BBIA, Manager Logistics Department CAA, Khawar&Co., chairman National Accountability Bureau (NAB) and DG Federal Investigation Authority as respondents in the case.

The counsel contended before the court that the CAA had been committing enormous financial irregularities. It had created several problems for the public at large and at the same time, it was causing financial loss to the public exchequer.

He said according to the CAA Ordinance 1982, the authority was meant to ensure safe and efficient civil aviation operations in the country.

More so, he said the CAA was bound to improve terminal facilities and remove bottlenecks to ensure Pakistani airports were passenger friendly.

A well maintained airport could help promote tourism in Pakistan as people would be encouraged to travel.

The counsel contended that the authority had illegally imposed and collected Rs20 to Rs40 per head on account of airport entry fee, despite the fact that the Competition Commission of Pakistan had taken notice of the issue and had written to the CAA to probe into the matter.

He said the CAA was not entitled to receive the fee without providing any additional services to people accompanying the travelers, and asked the court to declare the entry fee illegal.

On the other hand, the CAA maintained in court that the authority had imposed an entry fee to decrease the number of visitors at the airport as there was not enough space to cater for them all. The CAA counsel said the authority had, through newspaper advertisements, requested passengers not to bring too many visitors, but all in vain.

He said the entry fee had been effective in decreasing the number of people visiting the airport, adding that overcrowding was posing security threats.

The LHC bench had initially reserved judgment in this matter on June 11, 2013, and on Wednesday, stated that the imposition of entry fee was illegal and hazardous to security, control and good management.

The LHC judge also directed the CAA and other respondents to take measures to reduce and limit the number of visitors accompanying travelers in the parking lot and the lounge.

He maintained that the entry fee allowed all kinds of people to enter the BBIA and there was no check on the safety of passengers.

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Comments (6) (Closed)


Tahir
Jun 20, 2013 06:34pm

This was a good law. Have you seen the multiple people that come to see off every passenger? It makes life difficult for departing passengers who have to make their way through waves of people who have no business being at the airport.

A. Khan
Jun 20, 2013 10:44pm

Rs 85000 at Rs.20 ea works out to 4250 visitors. Assuming that Rs 85000 is the total amount for 6 months duration of contract which had been further reduced to Rs76000 (3800), there is significant grounds for a criminal investigation.

There are probably more than 3-4000 visitors per day to the airport. So, even assuming that there are an average of only 1000 visitors per day (a very low figure), the DAILY revenue should be Rs. 20,000. Now multiply this amount by 6 months(180 days) , this works out to Rs 3,600,000 (3.6 million) not counting parking fees. That's a 4235% profit.

Even then the contractor had the gall to get to his outlay reduced by Rs9,000. So you can see why I am saying that the CAA employee issuing this contract has most likely taken a kickback. Petitioner has put forward a very valid case but it should result in indictment and there are thousands more cases like these in Pakistan.

M Aslam
Jun 21, 2013 01:12am

@Tahir: There are two type of pessengers, one frequent flyers, noramally businessment and officials, and 2nd students, employees and visitors. It is common in worldwide that people/relative come to see off their friends and relatives and also to recieve them. It is CAA duty to plan and provide facilities according to forcast of pessangers. In most of the developed countries, pasengers drop their checked bagage in passenger lounge and stay with their relatives afterward. Islamabad air port is not sufficient to cater for number of passengers traveling thru it. CAA has to improve with positive measures not by implementing fee on pessengers, and sharing with the contractor.

zed
Jun 21, 2013 02:58pm

To all who read this.

No authority has the right to claim any toll or fee, if they don't use this money to improve the facilities. The money collected from toll or parking fees is not to fill the pockets but to be used to improve the parking facility. I believe in the fact that if this has been done, a multistorey parking lot would have been built by now. Instead of reducing the people to enter airport, we should encourage the people to enter the airport by providing more facilities. These people are source of income, so they should come.

SAL
Jun 21, 2013 06:22pm

I like the way it is done in Colombo (sri Lanka). All the visitors are made to sit on chairs, they would only get up and go to receive there guest once they see them and walk out. For departing, it is drop and go. We should do the same at our airports too.

Jhoulier
Jun 21, 2013 08:45pm

@M Aslam: I'm not sure which country you've seen so many people congregating at the airport for no apparent purpose. In the west almost no one goes to the airport and if they do they drop people curbside, not mass up at the entrance to the ticketing/security area.