CHENNAI: For an airport that’s perennially in the news for the wrong reasons, the previous financial year’s balance sheet will offer some cheers: Chennai Airport posted a healthy revenue of Rs 1022.80 crore, a substantial 50% jump over the Rs 690 crore posted in 2012-13. While this coincides with the period following the opening of the newly constructed terminals, all the attention is now on whether the airport will go under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) hammer on August 1.
Express has learnt from a top source at Airports Authority of India (AAI) that the proposal has been called for by the Prime Minister’s Office - for a final decision to be taken before the end of the week. “It has already been postponed thrice this year and the PMO has asked for the file to be sent so that a final decision can be taken. From AAI’s side, the necessary proposal and the bid outline have been prepared and duly submitted for review. It is now in their hands,” said the source. An official involved with the airport’s administration in Chennai confirmed the same.
Though delays in allowing the airport to be handled by a private company to ‘operate, maintain and develop’ have given rise to hope that privatisation may never come to pass, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma on Tuesday informed Parliament that the government was not averse to the PPP mode. “The government has no plan or proposal to privatise major airports like Chennai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Ahmedabad etc. However, the government intends to undertake operation, maintenance and development of airports under the PPP mode,” he said confirming that the bidding may well happen on August 1.
The jump in revenue is credited to higher charges levied for the new facilities, in addition to levying higher ground handling charged on airlines. “Several food and beverage contracts and revenue from advertising has contributed, but the major source of income is from the air services. This is a cash-rich undertaking and has never been in the sick bay,” said the source.
Not even the cheers that emanated from the financial results have lifted the spirits of several AAI officers and employees, who fear termination or transfers, if the airport is handed over to private players like GVK, Tata and Changi who have expressed interest.