No plan to privatise airports: Minister

New Delhi : The government Monday said that currently there is no proposal to privatise airports in the country.

According to Minister of State (MoS) for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma, the government had initiated the process for undertaking operation, management and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports through the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model.

Support TwoCircles

Sharma informed the Lok Sabha in a written reply that the government had taken the PPP route on the recommendations of a task force on financing plans for airports during the twelfth five-year plan period, set up by the erstwhile planning commission.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) issued a request for qualification documents Dec 30 last year for private players who are interested in participating in the development and operation of the Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports through PPP.

“The government has asked AAI management to evolve a mechanism for protection of the interests of the employees deployed at the above four airports,” the minister said in the written reply.

The minister further informed parliament that the government had framed a draft civil aviation policy which envisages listing of AAI and Pawan Hans Helicopter Ltd. in the stock exchanges.

The development assumes significance as the employees union of AAI has called for a countrywide strike March 11 to protest against the government’s move to hand over airports to private operators.

Airports Authority Employees Union’s general secretary and joint forum member Balraj Singh Ahlawat had stated earlier that AAI employees will start an agitation by going on a strike on March 11.

Alleging that the privatisation of the Delhi and Mumbai airports during the previous UPA government was a big “scam” and that the civil aviation ministry had “closed down” old airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad without approval of the AAI board, Ahlawat had said that the government now wants to hand over four more airports, already modernised by AAI at a cost of Rs.5,000 crore, to private players.