AAI eyes foreign players for Kolkata, Chennai airports

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 19, 2013 19:00 hrs

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has finally initiated the process to rope in foreign companies for operating and maintening Kolkata and Chennai airports, in line with the recommendations of a Planning Commission task force.

“Whether we like it or not, the reality is that there is demand for very high level of passenger satisfaction. I am sure with our staff, we have reached a good level in this regard. But we are also open to the idea of roping in private players for maintenance and operation,” V P Agrawal, chairman of AAI, told Business Standard.

According to Agrawal, foreign operators such as Changi Airport Group (Singapore) and Flughafen Zurich AG, which runs the Zurich airport, have already shown interest for a tie-up with AAI for providing the services. “Things are at a very primary level. We have to work out the modalities for such arrangements. If it materialises, we will take the tender route for tie-ups.”

However, the AAI chief added: “The PPP (public-private partnership model is a kind of policy AAI is working on, which can be implemented starting with Kolkata and Chennai airports.”

The Planning Commission task force under the chairmanship of B K Chaturvedi, in its deliberation on financing plan for airports during the 12th Five-Year Plan, had earlier suggested privatisation of the operations and maintenance of government-run airports. While the new terminal at Kolkata airport will be formally inaugurated on January 20, the Chennai airport is expected to be thrown open on January 31, post-modernisation.

AAI to give Kingfisher slots to other operators

In yet another blow to Vijay Mallya-led Kingfisher Airlines Ltd, AAI today said it would start giving away the grounded carrier’s slots in various airports to other operators on the basis of demand. “We are ready to give away Kinfisher’s slots. Whenever someone approaches, we will start giving away the slots,” V P Agrawal, chairman of AAI said.

According officials, Kingfisher has about 200 slots in various AAI-run airports. Incidentally, reports indicated that Mumbai International Airport Ltd has already given away six out of 11 Kingfisher slots to Indigo.

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