New Delhi: The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA), which is set up to decide on airport and aeronautical charges and settling disputes, is set to start functioning with its first chairman Yashwant S Bhave taking charge on Saturday.
The private airlines, which have threatened to suspend their flights on August 18, have been protesting against high airport charges levied by airport operators and are demanding that AERA be made functional immediately to listen to their grievances.
The AERA was constituted after Parliament passed an Act late last year for economic regulation of the growing airport infrastructure sector, managed both by the state-owned Airports Authority of India and the private players.
This body has the task to determine tariffs for aeronautical services at all major airports, including those related to air navigation, landing and parking.
With Bhave taking charge today, the AERA is likely to commence its regulatory functions "within the next few months", an official spokesperson said. Bhave, a retired IAS officer, was Secretary in the Department of Consumer Affairs and has served in various positions including being a member on the board of the Bangalore International Airports Ltd as well as the CEO of Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation.
AERA is expected to play a crucial role in calibrating airport charges so as not to burden the airlines and the passengers.
At the same time, these charges need to be remunerative enough for the airport operators who are investing heavily in upgrading and modernising the aviation infrastructure across the country.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), an umbrella body of world airlines, had also expressed concern over high airport charges and had declared Delhi and Mumbai airports among the "worst" in terms of high tariffs. It had also urged the Civil Aviation Ministry recently to make the AERA functional soon.