In a setback to air travel agents across the country, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday dismissed the petitions filed by them challenging the International Air Transport Association (IATA)’s resolution on seven days Bill Settlement Plan (BSP) and fixation of commission. In his order, Justice A.S. Bopanna said the court cannot interfere in the issue while pointing out that the Karnataka and the Kerala High Courts have already held, in the earlier round of litigations, that the issues are subject matter of contractual agreement between the parties, and if there is no consensus reached over the dispute, then the issues will have to be referred to the arbitrators as envisaged in the contract.
With today’s order, the stay against seven-day BSP granted by the High Court by way of an interim order in the first week of January stands vacated, while allowing the IATA to enforce its new plan.
The Travel Agents’ Association of India (TAAI) and the Travel Agents’ Federation of India had filed separate petitions in this regard.
The petitioners had sought directions to the Ministry and the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to enforce the provisions of the Aircraft Act and the Rules related to air tariff on IATA and its members, and to declare as illegal the IATA’s Resolution 818g (which came into force from January 1, 2014) relating to commission and BSP as was unilaterally passed without approval from the DGCA for its implementation in India.
However, the High Court pointed out that the DGCA in its objection has made it clear that it cannot lay down quantum of commission payable by the airlines to the agents while asserting that it has no role to play in the issues.
On the petitioner’s allegations that the DGCA had protected the interests of air cargo agents by giving directions regarding payment of commission by putting suitable conditions, the court said that it cannot issue any direction on this ground.