AAI threatens to stall air services

NEW DELHI — The staff of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) yesterday threatened to stall air services nationwide if the privatisation process to upgrade the Mumbai and Delhi airports was not called off.


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Published: Tue 31 Jan 2006, 9:17 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 2:54 PM

The threat comes a day before Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel’s deadline of Jan 31 to open bids for financial consideration. With the Left-backed AAI stir intensifying, a question mark is now being put on that commitment.

The warning by the AAI Employees Joint Forum came after a 90-minute meeting with the civil aviation minister where both parties maintained their disagreements.

Forum convenor M.K. Ghoshal said they had “agreed to disagree”.

“We have so far not taken any steps to inconvenience the air traveller. But if the government goes ahead with privatisation we could even consider closure of all airports. It could be a massive industrial action, the responsibility of which will squarely lie on the government,” he said

In a bid to pacify the protesting staff, AAI chairperson K. Ramalingam gave an assurance that the AAI proposal for modernising the airports would be considered.

“We have been ignored repeatedly in the whole issue due to which the staff has become very sentimental,” Ghoshal said.

He added that the staff was “getting emotional” and may take drastic steps if the government continued to ignore them.

Reacting to reports that the government might go ahead with the tenders, Ghoshal said, “If financial bids are forcibly opened, then it will lead to confrontation between the government and employees.”

The AAI staff is protesting the process of modernising the Mumbai-Delhi airports through a bidding process involving only private parties.

The AAI had submitted a proposal for modernisation of the airports, but the government ignored it despite the proposal reportedly qualifying in all fronts. The government then invited only private players to participate in tender process.

Delhi Metro Rail Corporation chief E. Sreedharan, who was invited by Cabinet Secretary B.K. Chaturvedi to look into the tender process, also recommended that AAI be included in the modernisation plan. But the civil aviation ministry was in no mood for such considerations.

The government only considered six private consortiums for modernising the two airports. While all the six consortiums bid for restructuring the Mumbai airport, only five expressed interest for the Delhi airport.

The five bidders for Delhi airport are GMR in a tie-up with the operators of the Frankfurt airport Fraport, Reliance, which submitted a bid with ASA Mexico, D.S. Construction, in a tie-up with the Munich airport, Macquire in association with Airport de Paris and the Essel Group in association with the Turkish airport operator TAV.

Apart from these five, the GVK group that has a tie-up with the South African Airport is also in the fray for revamping the Mumbai airport.

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