IndiGo airlines on Wednesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Meghalaya High Court direction to all commercial operators and the Ministry of Civil Aviation to urgently take a decision to start flights from Umroi Airport located 30 km from Shillong.
In a suo moto petition, the Meghalaya High Court had directed the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) as well as the secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) chairman to hold a meeting within a week on the issue of making the airport operational.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi , appearing for the IndiGo airlines, mentioned the petition before a Bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, which agreed to give it an urgent hearing on Thursday.
The Bench, also comprising Justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph, was told that Meghalaya airport lacks facilities for big aircraft and firefighting.
The Bench was also told that due to high obstacles around Shillong airport, airlines cannot take full-load capacity during summer and winters.
InterGlobe Aviation, the parent company of IndiGo which predominantly operates Airbus A-320 and ATR 72-600 aircraft, said the Shillong airport was equipped with the airport fire category of CAT4 whereas IndiGo requires CAT5 for operating its ATR 72-600.
According to IndiGo, the Shillong airport can be used for landing only when visibility is 5000 metres or more.
“The operation can’t start,” Rohatgi submitted before the Bench.
The High Court on December 7 had directed that the exercise for taking decision to make operational the airport has to be completed within seven days and had posted the matter for further hearing on December 14.
The brief hearing session also witnessed lighter moments as Rohatgi was told by the bench that he will be identified as IndiGo’s counsel.
“You will have tremendous disadvantage,” the CJI said indicating there would be lot of requests to him.
When Rohatgi mentioned the matter, the CJI asked him “Who are you?”
He replied “I am Indigo.”
“We are always going to remember you are Indigo. You may have tremendous disadvantage since you are Indigo,” Justice Gogoi said evoking quick response from Rohtagi that “I will get it fixed if there are difficulties”.