Meghalaya HC peeved at airlines for misleading court, making false statements

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SHILLONG, Feb 16: The Meghalaya High Court on Friday expressed its dissatisfaction with several airliners’ reply to non-operation of flights from the Shillong Airport at Umroi. The Court stopped just short of ordering proceedings for perjury against officials of Airlines for citing ‘false’ and ‘misleading’ statements.

The Division Bench comprising of chief justice Mohammad Yaqoob Mir and Justice SR Sen observed that Air Asia tried to mislead the court, Inter Globe Aviation Limited, which operates airline Indigo, filed a false statement and Jet Airways has to file affidavit with regard to certain survey/studies regarding operation of their flight.

The court has also granted a week’s time to the Civil Aviation department to file a detailed affidavit for taking final measure to ensue operation of flights, their landing and taking off from Shillong Airport at Umroi to metros.

“We have clearly indicated as to what measures have been taken and are to be taken for operationalization of airport i.e. for ensuring landing and taking-off aircrafts from Umroi Airport to metros, a week’s time is granted but we hope and trust that Civil Aviation department will not seek any further extension of time,” the division bench said in its order passed on Friday.

On Air Asia misleading the court, the airlines’ representative Deepak Mahendra has been asked to appear in person before the court to explain his position for making a deposition with the object of misleading the Court.

“Before we proceed against him (Deepak) by having recourse to contempt proceedings and for perjury, he shall appear before the Court in person to explain his position,” the order said.

According to the affidavit filed by Deepak Mahendra, Air Asia has only A320 aircraft and as on date, Umroi Airport is not compatible for A320 aircraft.

The bench said it is quite disturbing to note that the deponent Deepak Mahendra has exhibited ignorance in the affidavit, which is totally unaccepted. In para ‘g’ he has stated: ‘In fact the roads are very well connected and maintained and more preferred way of travelling to Shillong than the flight option. It is submitted that flight operations at the Airport are not at all commercially viable due to several reasons like payload restrictions where aircraft cannot fly to its full capacity, visual flight restrictions, low visibility, and safety issues.”

The bench observed that the deponent’s submission that ‘Shillong is well connected by road which is more preferred way of travelling to Shillong than flight option’, suggests that he (Deepak) has been playing in the hands of someone and has made such a deposition with the object of misleading the Court.

Regarding low visibility, visual flight restrictions and safety issues, RG Lama, General Manager Air Traffic, has already made it clear that there is no visibility issue or safety issue, however, as a matter of fact, A320 as on date cannot take-off or land at Umroi Airport.

The Inter Globe Aviation Limited said Indigo has AIR 72-600 aircrafts whereas Shillong Airport, Umroi has only two parking stand which are compatible only for ATR 42 aircrafts and not for AIR 72-600 aircrafts, therefore, Indigo aircraft cannot be parked at Shillong Airport, Umroi.

The second objection is that visibility at the airport is 5000 metres or more, landing and taking-off could take place only at day time. The third objection is that even though Instrument Landing System (ILS) has been published with higher minima of 5000 meters and not less which is designed for visual circling and could not be used by airline for landing.

But Lama stated that the objections raised by Inter Globe Aviation Limited in its affidavit are “incorrect”.

Lama said the alliance ATR 72-100 on trial basis is landing and taking-off from Shillong Airport. Further, with the installation of ILS there is no issue of visibility.

The bench has directed Rahul Kumar, who has filed the affidavit for Indigo, to make his position clear as to why he has made a false statement before the Court. “He must file his affidavit within one week in case of default his personal appearance shall be indispensable,” the Court said.

Affidavit filed by the Managing Director, Go Airlines (India) Limited is suggestive of the fact that Go Airlines is operating only Airbus A-320 fleet, which as per Lama, cannot land or take-off from Shillong Airport presently.

The bench has also granted a week’s time to the Jet Airways to file affidavit with regard to certain survey/studies regarding operation of their flight.

It was also brought to the notice of the Court that as usual Alliance Air is operating ATR-72 from Kolkata to Umroi but the flights are cancelled quite frequently.

On this, the Chief Executive Officer of Allied Services Limited (Alliance Air) has also been asked to file affidavit within one week to clearly indicate, from 1st January till date how many flights have been operated and how many flights have been cancelled on day and date wise.

During the hearing, it was also brought to the notice of the Court that the road providing for egress and ingress to the local inhabitants is under construction inside the boundary wall which in the long run will be hazardous.

However, according to the Superintending Engineer as well as Lama, the road which is under construction is a temporary measure, a step for ensuring operationalization of the airport.

The Superintending Engineer assured that acquisition of land for the road outside the boundary wall shall be vigorously pursued.

The next hearing on the matter has been fixed on February 25.