Compat to hear plea against Jet-Etihad deal on March 13

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The Competition Appellate Tribunal will hear again next month the appeal challenging fair trade regulator CCI's approval for the Rs 2,060 crore Jet-Etihad deal.

The plea, scheduled for hearing today, could not be taken up. It will now be heard by the tribunal on March 13.

Former Air India Executive Director Jitender Bhargava has filed the appeal challenging Competition Commission of India's decision to clear the Jet-Etihad deal without carrying out a detailed assessment.

In a fresh development, the Air Passengers Association of India (APAI) has joined as a party to the case along with Bhargava.

"We have impleaded ourselves as a party in support of what Jitender Bhargava had filed (before the Compat)," APAI President G Sudhakara Reddy told PTI.

In November 2013, CCI cleared Abu Dhabi-based Etihad's acquisition of a 24 per cent stake in Naresh Goyal-led Jet Airways. The Commission had said the transaction does not raise concerns of adverse competition issues.

Bhargava contended in his appeal that the CCI failed to carry out an assessment of the appreciable adverse effect on competition and "placed all passengers and indeed the entire airline industry into a grave risk of suffering irreparable damage and permanently eliminating competition".

According to him, if the proposed combination is permitted to be completed in its present form, passengers are likely to be deprived of airline choices on key routes, pay higher prices and have fewer options on aircraft, timings and service quality.

The CCI majority order, passed by its chairman Ashok Chawla and four members, said the Jet-Etihad combination is not likely to have appreciable adverse effect on competition.

However, one CCI member, in his dissenting order, had observed that the deal could adversely affect competition in the international air travel market.

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