Govt puts off plans to privatise four airports

Reversing its earlier plan, the government has decided to scrap the proposal to privatise Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports.

Now, private players would be roped in only for operation and maintenance activities of Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports.

A decision in this regard was taken last month during a high-level meeting that was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju and his deputy Mahesh Sharma, among others.

The earlier proposal was for undertaking the operation, management and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports through public private partnership (PPP) mode.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) also issued Request for Qualification (RfQ) documents in December last year.

Sharma today said the government has now decided to take up Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports on pilot basis.

"The four airports, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Kolkata, were under consideration. On a pilot basis, the two airports, Jaipur and Ahmedabad, will be taken on O&M basis.

Issues of Chennai and Kolkata have been deferred," Sharma told reporters here.

The modus operandi for roping in private players to carry out O&M works at Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports is going to be discussed with stakeholders, he added.

When asked whether similar mechanism would be adopted for other airports, the Minister said, "Let's see the results (for Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports) and if they are good we will extend it to others".

Without disclosing specific details, Sharma said representations were received with regard to Chennai and Kolkata airports.

Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said that Airports Authority of India (AAI) has invested significant funds in these four airports.

Instead of privatisation, AAI would continue to be the owner of these airports. "At the same time, for better operations and maintenance, the private sector expertise will be tapped," he said.

Interestingly, the Civil Aviation Ministry has been maintaining that there is no proposal to privatise these four airports.

"There is no such proposal of privatisation of airports at present," Sharma had told Rajya Sabha earlier this year.

This was his response to a query on whether the government was considering a proposal to privatise Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports.

There are 476 airports, operational as well as non-operational ones, in the country.

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