NEW DELHI: With the next general elections months away, UPA-II has decided to fast-track the privatization of six more AAI airports — Chennai, Kolkata, Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur and Guwahati — like the four metro airports that are now running under PPP (public-private-partnership) model.
The aviation ministry will start issuing request for qualification (RFQ) from next week to private bidders to "operate, maintain and develop" these airports on a revenue-share model with AAI for a concession period of 30 years.
However unlike the PPP airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore, AAI will not be asked to invest anything in the private companies that will bid to run the six airports as the ministry has decided to allow the private players to have 100% stake. AAI has a 26% stake in Delhi and Mumbai and 13% in Hyderabad and Bangalore airports.
Aviation secretary K N Srivastava said: "The ministry may issue the RFQ document for Chennai and Lucknow airports next week. The RFQ for Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur and Guwahati will be issued in the coming weeks. We are open to giving 100% stake to private parties." RFQ includes the broad parameters of the privatization process.
AAI had recently modernized Kolkata and Chennai airports at a cost of Rs 2,325 crore and Rs 2,015 crore, respectively. It has also upgraded both the passenger terminal and operational facilities at the other four airports, which are now being sought to be privatized.
Apart from unions and political parties, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) had also opposed privatization of more airports in India after seeing how the private
metro airports have hiked their charges. Delhi, for instance, is now rated among the most expensive airports in the world.
A senior AAI official said the authority will continue to have a say in the private companies that will run the six airports. "Britain's Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had introduced the concept of golden share, while privatizing public sector companies there. Under this, the state utility will not pay anything and yet have a say equal to a 26% shareholder. The state utility will attend all meetings of the new company formed to run their assets and can intervene when needed," said the official.