• ‘Partial’ take-off for airport handover – GLOBAL BIDS TO RUN 2

    The Airports Authority of India is set to outsource the running of two airports in a “cautious” take-off on a phased privatisation scheme the earlier government had conceived before the Narendra Modi regime put it on hold.

    Sources said the AAI, the civil aviation ministry’s arm that operates airports, would see how the “partial privatisation” – that involves operations and management – works with Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports before extending the plan.

    AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said global bids from private players for running the two airports would be invited in November. “We will first see how the plan goes in the case of these two airports, and then decide about other airports,” Mohapatra said.

    The UPA government had handed over Delhi and Mumbai airports to private companies on a public-private-partnership model about a decade back. It had then allowed private operators to build new airports in Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin and shut down the old airports there.

    The UPA had also proposed handing over the airports in Calcutta, Chennai, Ahmedabad and Jaipur on a PPP model#for an infrastructure upgrade. But the AAI employees’ union had opposed the proposal amid concerns that the earlier transfers of airport ownership had resulted in human resource related issues.

    After the change of guard in 2014, the aviation ministry had indicated that it was scrapping the UPA plan to privatise airports one by one. AAI insiders, however, said the government had now revised its stand following airport-linked financial losses year after year. “But we are being cautious. Instead of asking private companies to build and modernise airports, we are only offering to hand over operations and maintenance,” an AAI official said, adding the modalities were being discussed with the finance ministry.

    According to the aviation ministry’s annual report, over 100 airports, including those in most state capitals, had incurred cumulative losses of around Rs 1,225 crore during 2015-16, and only eight airports had earned profits. Jordan Clarkson Authentic Jersey

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