Govt Wants Private Firms To Manage All Airports; Air India’s Privatization By 2020-End

Govt Wants Private Firms To Manage All Airports; Air India's Privatization By 2020-End
Govt Wants Private Firms To Manage All Airports; Air India’s Privatization By 2020-End

Recently, the Kerala government opposed the Union Cabinet’s approval to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Enterprises under the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model for a tenure of 50 years.

On this, India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Hardeep Singh Puri said that the government should not be running airports and airlines. He added that he hopes to privatize Air India during 2020.

Read on to find out more…

Airport Privatization Opposed By Kerala!

In February 2019, the Center privatized 6 major Indian airports namely Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati, and leased them out to the Adani Enterprises who came out a winner in the global competitive bidding process. Adani Enterprises outbid 8t other companies in the process namely GMR Airports, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC), Cochin International Airport Ltd, and Zurich Airport.

On August 19 this year, Union Cabinet had approved the proposal for leasing out three airports- Jaipur, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram -from the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to Adani Enterprises. 

Currently, the state-run AAI owns and runs over 100 airports across the country. 

Earlier this month, Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi opposing the Center’s decision to lease out the Thiruvananthapuram to the private company.

The letter read “In view of the unilateral decision taken by the government of India without giving credence to the cogent arguments put forward by the State government, it will be difficult for us to offer cooperation to the implementation of the decision which is against the wishes of the people of the State.” 

Vijayan also mentioned that the state’s request to entrust the airport management with Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) in which the state government is the major stakeholder was also ignored.

Addressing a virtual meet on the Namo app, Hardeep Singh Puri said, “I can tell you from my heart the government should not be running airports and the government should not be running airlines.”

The Civil Aviation Minister further defended the privatization move of the airports by the government by stating that during the former Congress rule they had ‘privatized the Delhi, Mumbai airports.’ (ANI)

When Will Air India Get Privatized?

The previous deadline for the bidding process for the proposed strategic disinvestment of Air India was supposed to end today on August 31. However, in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic resultant economic fallout, the Central Government has extended the deadline till October 30. This is the fourth extension initiated by the government. 

The process of stake sale in Air India was initiated on January 27, 2020. 

On Air India’s privatization, Puri said, “As a going concern one that is attractive to potential bidders, we should privatize it (Air India). And I am hopeful that we will be able to complete that privatization process during this year.”

Puri said, “If the government runs an airport or an airline, then they have to follow the government rules like L1 and L2, and that is not how commercial entities can run.”

Puri also said, “Air India has been an asset and has a very good record, very trained professional people. But, the government should not be running airports and airlines, our government rules should be applied to commercial entities.”

So far, only the Tata Group seemed interested in the bidding process of Air India!

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