Allow AAI to manage all airports in India

AAI-CareersThe management of airports in Chennai and other metro and non-metro cities should remain with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) its subsidiary or a special purpose vehicle formed to manage these airports, rather than privatising services there, a Parliamentary Committee has recommended on Wednesday.

“Airports Authority of India (AAI) (should) be allowed to operate the airports at Chennai and Kolkata and other non-metro airports for a few years,” states the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture on ‘Privatisation of services at airports’.

The report, which was released on Wednesday, points out that the Government has invested thousands of crores to modernise these airports and it is unfortunate that it is now proposed to hand them over to private parties.

The report comes at a time when the process of privatisation of six airports — Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad and Guwahati — is already under way.

Strongly objecting to the move to privatise services at metro and non-metro airports, Committee Chairman Sitaram Yechury told newspersons the move seems to be a case of “privatisation of profits and nationalisation of losses”, as AAI is being asked to run all loss-making airports while the metro airports that earn profits are with the private sector.

Blaming the Planning Commission for drawing up the concession agreements for privatisation of airport services, the Committee says it wrong to argue that AAI has not been able to garner “a lot of resources” from airports when the private sector has managed to do that.

The Committee expressed its “dismay” that instead of strengthening AAI by giving it much-needed financial and administrative autonomy to enable it to take its own decisions without being influenced/advised by the Ministry or Planning Commission, a decision to give airports on “a platter” to private parties was taken. Yechury claimed that the move was also against a decision taken by the Infrastructure Committee headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the tenure of UPA I.

The Committee also expressed its concerns about the fate of the large number of Airports Authority of India (AAI) employees if the privatisation process goes through.

The Committee recommends that AAI may be permitted to “manage and operate” all its airports, including the loss-making ones, with a rider that there should be time-bound delivery of world-class passenger services in a more efficient and transparent manner. (Source: Thehindu)

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