THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Ministry of Civil Aviation’s (MoCA) move to privatise the Trivandrum International Airport is likely to get entangled in legal battle as the Airport Authority Employees’ Union (AAEU) has decided to challenge privatisation decision in the High Court.
The state government has formed a ‘special-purpose vehicle’ to keep the airport in the public sector,
A delegation of union representatives from here the other day met Jayant Sinha, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, and requested him to drop the airport from the list of the airports put up for sale in the country.
The minister, however, refused to intervene in the matter, saying the Union cabinet took the decision to privatise the airports. S Ajith Kumar, secretary of AAEU Trivandrum, said the employees union has given a complaint to the Central Labour Commissioner, who has called a meeting on January 7 in New Delhi. If the meeting fails to reach a consensus, the Union will challenge the privatisation decision at the High Court, he said.
The request for proposal prepared by the MoCA ahead of the privatisation has almost nipped the chances off companies from Kerala from taking part in the bidding. According to Jacob K Phillip, aviation expert, who studied the RFP, the pre-qualification (PQ) criteria listed in the request for proposal included a net worth Rs 1,000 crore as the first pre-qualification to take part in the bidding.
Further, to prove the technical capacity and experience, the bidder should have a cumulative revenue of Rs 3,500 crore from its business over the past seven years (airport business is not necessary). Further, if there is any subsidiary company in the consortium of companies which takes part in the bidding, each company, whose revenue can be considered to reach the magical figure of Rs 3,500 crore, must have at least Rs 1400 crore (40% of 3500) each, to get it considered with the total revenue of Rs 3,500 crore.
A tailor-made clause to avoid the embarrassment of ‘unexpected dark horses’ winning the race, other than the top selected companies, which has effectively spoiled the chances of TIAL and CIAL from the race, he said.The RFP has also many gray areas like absence of details of sharing the aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenues between the private player and AAI.
Further, the private company which takes over the airport will give a share from each domestic passenger to the AAI, while there is no mention about the revenue sharing of international passenger. In the case of Kerala, the number of international pax is higher than that of domestic pax, just opposite of north Indian airports, where domestic pax exceed international pax, said Ajith Kumar. In this backdrop, it would be better to move legal route challenging the privatisation in the court, he said.