Entry fee at BB airport: Court puts defence ministry, CAA on notice

‘Illegal’ collection of entry fee challenged in court; defence ministry, CAA made respondents.


Express September 21, 2011

RAWALPINDI:


The Ministry of Defence secretary and the manager of Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA) were issued notices on Monday over collection of entry fee at the Islamabad airport.


Justice Saghir Ahmed Qadri of the Lahore High Court (LHC) Rawalpindi bench sought the response of the authorities within two weeks in the petition filed by Barrister Sajjad Ahmed Satti.

Apart from the parking fee, visitors other than the driver also have to pay for their visit to the airport. The charges are made on an individual basis, while the cost of visiting with additional members is higher than going alone.

Making the defence secretary, Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director-general, BBIA manager, Competition Commission of Pakistan (CCP), the auditor general of Pakistan and the contractor who set up the fee collection system as respondents, the petitioner challenged this practise. He said that the CAA had allowed collection of Rs20 to Rs40 from every individual and had exempted certain officials and individuals from the list.

The petition said CCP had taken notice of the illegal collection of the entry fee at the airport. After thorough investigation, it also directed the CAA not to have a discriminatory attitude in collecting fees.

Despite the observation, the CAA did not give up this illegal practice, said the petitioner through his lawyer Raja Saimul Haq.

Haq also raised questions over the purchase of two aircraft without floating open tenders in 2007.

The petition was earlier filed with the Islamabad High Court but the petitioner was directed to approach the LHC as the airport fell in the territorial jurisdiction of Rawalpindi.

Haq alleged that the logistics department of the CAA on January 7, 2007 gave tenders for two Federal Aviation Regulation (FAR) Part-25 Transport Turbo Fan Aircraft but later purchased FAR-23 normal category aircraft on September 3, 2007 at the cost of $15.3 million. This was done without going through open bidding for the changed category.

“The case of FAR-23 versus FAR-25 was discussed with the Ministry of Defence which allowed the purchase of FAR-23 in order to avoid a closure of operations by international airlines,” said the petitioner quoting CAA’s response to the objections.

In the public interest, the barrister prayed to the court to stop the CAA from collecting the illegal fees and order departmental and legal action against the responsible official of CAA for anomalies in the purchase of the two aircraft.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 21st, 2011.

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