THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Centre and state are on a warpath over the privatisation of the Trivandrum international airport, a profit-making airport in the state. To counter the Centre’s move to privatise the airport, the state government has formed a special purpose vehicle called Trivandrum International Airport Ltd (TIAL), besides asking the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL) to bid for the airport in case the Centre moves ahead with privatisation.
However, the Centre is determined to go ahead as sources in the airport confirmed the data related to airport have been shifted to the headquarters, although it was earlier decided to open a data room in the airport for the benefit of private players to get full-fledged details of the airport. It is believed anticipating protest from employees and locals, the files related to the airport have been shifted to the Airport Authority of India headquarters. When contacted, Trivandrum Airport director-in-charge said there would be no works here in connection the privatisation of the airport and everything would be held in AAI headquarters.
Meanwhile, the state government’s move to form an SPV and directing CIAL to participate in the bidding have raised some apprehensions. First, in both the companies, the state government will have only 26 per cent equity and other players in the consortium will own the remaining stakes. In short, it is almost equal to privatising the airport. Second one, it is hard to believe the state government has carefully studied the criteria enlisted in the request for proposal (RFP) of the Centre.
For instance, though technical bid and financial bid are mandatory for qualifying for the bidding, the RPF has not sought any technical expertise from the private players other than seeking a PQ (Pre Qualification) of net-worth of Rs 1,000 crore pre-qualification.
Another PQ is to demonstrate the technical capacity and experience, the bidder should have collected a revenue of Rs 3,500 crore from its business over the past seven years (airport business is not necessary). The state government’s company and CIAL would not meet this criteria, as per the annual reports of both companies. Aviation expert Jacob K Philip told Express if the state is keen on retaining the airport in the public sector, it should first ask the Centre to lower the PQ criteria first.