Monday, February 22, 2021

DIAL in HC over Rs 80cr dues from Centaur Hotel

New Delhi: Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) has moved the Delhi high court to recover long outstanding lease dues of about Rs 80 crore from Centaur Hotel.

The dilapidated 1982-era hotel, run by Air India subsidiary Hotel Corporation of India (HCI), was recently allowed to operate till March 2032. Neither AI nor DIAL commented on the issue till the time of going to press.

A source said that Centaur Hotel’s dues have been outstanding for several years. “Airports, airlines and the entire aviation ecosystem are struggling to survive due to the Covid pandemic,” said the source. “DIAL shares 46% revenue with Airports Authority of India (AAI). Centaur’s dues, when recovered, will be shared with AAI. While we understand the financial position of AI, airports also need funds to survive.”

DIAL had been seeking the demolition of Centaur Hotel to expand the airport. In 2019, the aviation ministry had first asked HCI to hand over the land to AAI. Later that year, the government decided to not to terminate the lease of the hotel till March 31, 2032.

That decision read: “AAI and DIAL requires this land for aeronautical purpose in Phase-IV development. According to the master plan submitted by DIAL in 2016, development work is proposed for 2026-2034. Therefore, HCI may use the land/structure up to the expiry of the existing period, March 31, 2032, only and to vacate the land positively upon expiry of existing lease period.”

The ministry had, at that time, directed that arbitration process start between AAI and HCI over the default of lease rentals. “Since HCI has defaulted in paying AAI the dues from 2002 onwards, according to the agreement, AAI chairman is empowered to appoint the arbitrator,” the 2019 ministry communique to the hotel corporation had said.

22/02/21 Sauabh Sinha/Times of India

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