The district court of Chandigarh, on Friday, stayed the license termination notice of the Chandigarh International Airport Limited (CHIAL) directing CITCO to vacate the domestic lounge premises by August 10, till August 14. Meanwhile, CHIAL submitted in its reply that CITCO “cannot be permitted to blow hot and cold in the same breath”, as they have withdrawn from operating the international lounge.
The court of Civil Judge Simran Singh stayed the notice after considering the pleadings of both the counsels. The matter will now come for hearing on August 14.
The Chandigarh Industrial and Tourism Development Corporation (CITCO), had pleaded that they had surrendered the international lounge after giving 30 days notice since the visitors at the lounge are minimal and the sale on the international terminal was also negligible. They have retained domestic lounge. CHIAL, however, on July 2 had issued a notice for the termination of space allotted for the domestic lounge to CITCO on the ground that the latter “had not fulfilled the conditions of the license including termination of licence qua international lounge”, and thus asked it to vacate the domestic lounge on August 10. Following this CITCO moved court.
CHIAL however in its reply stated that both the lounges were allotted as a single unit. Thus, if CITCO does not operate the International lounge, CHIAL is very much in their rights to withdraw the operation of domestic lounge. Regarding the plea of CITCO for rebate in the license fee, CHIAL submitted that the rates which were offered to CITCO were the minimum base rates of the space rental and were agreed to by CITCO, therefore leaving no scope for further rebate. On CITCO’s argument of few flights at the international terminal and few visitors, CHIAL submitted that the footfall of the travellers at the airport had 7 increased rapidly.
“In the year 2016-17, the footfall was 1.83 million. In 2017-18, it was 2.13 million and in the year 2018-19, the footfall was 2.09 million. It is worth submitting here that the airport caters to the tourists coming from the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh.” On CITCO’s plea of passengers not having any time to visit the lounge due to a flight scheduled approximately every 20 minutes, CHIAL replied that “…the domestic check-in counters opens two hours before the departure time and for the international flights, check-in counters opens four hours before the departure time. Thus, the passengers have ample time to explore and use the airport facilities including the lounge…”
CHIAL further submitted that despite footfall of travellers increasing substantially, if CITCO has not been able to rise up to the expectation of the travellers, the fault lies with CITCO themselves.
CHAIL stated that CITCO was informed on April 24, 2019 and May 29, 2019 that they have to operate both the lounges together and they refused to do so. When it became clear that CITCO was not interested in operating the international lounge, the necessary consequence was to terminate the operation of domestic lounge, and as part of contract, both the lounges have to be operated in unison.