THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The state is most likely to get the operational rights of the Trivandrum International Airport, which the Central Government had decided to privatise along with five others in the country.
Sources told Express that a formal understanding in this regard has been reached at the secretary level. The state government has suggested the formation of a committee headed by the chief secretary to work out the modalities.
Trivandrum International Airport Limited (TIAL), the special purpose vehicle formed to bid for the airport, is likely to be entrusted with the task of running it. The new committee is likely to take a call on the company’s shareholding while the state government is likely to have stakes only in proportion to the investment it had made in the airport development over the years.
A consortium of companies to be included in TIAL will have crucial stakes. The number of companies is not known yet, but Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) which won the bid for the airport operation and the NRI businessman who had exerted pressure to keep the airport in state custody may have significant stakes.
Adani Enterprises cannot opt out of the race unilaterally as it was the winning bidder for the airport as withdrawal would invite forfeiting of its properties. Moreover, Adani Enterprises has interest to be part of the airport as it is currently developing the international multipurpose deepwater seaport at Vizhinjam, Thiruvananthapuram.
Meanwhile, the asset estimation conducted by the Airport Authority of India (AAI) as part of leasing out six airports to the winning bidder has come to light. The winner was told to make one-time upfront pay to AAI as reimbursement of the cost of existing capital assets.
They are Ahmedabad (Rs 311.41 cr), Jaipur (Rs 473.56 cr), Lucknow (Rs 459.93 cr), Guwahati (Rs 387.71 cr), Mangaluru (Rs 190.50 Cr) and Thiruvananthapuram (Rs 476.15 cr). The investment made by AAI in Trivandrum over the years would come to thousands of crores rupees. The state government is in the process of taking over 18 acres of land for building a new terminal for which the estimated cost would come to around Rs 600 crore. If the winning bidder takes over the airport under PPP, only communication navigation surveillance and air traffic management will be run by the AAI. Services like security, customs, immigration, plant and animal quarantine, and meteorology will continue to be performed by respective government agencies.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had met the Prime Minister recently requesting not to hand over the Trivandrum airport to a private player, but give it back to the state. Adani Enterprises had last February won the bids to operate and develop Guwahati, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Mangaluru and Thiruvananthapuram airports for 50 years.