CHENNAI: In a landmark decision, it appears that the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Airports Authority of India (AAI) have decided to pull Chennai Airport off the privatisation list. A top source at the AAI headquarters said the decision had been made after much deliberation. “It has been decided that Chennai Airport will be operated by the AAI based on the proposals made by the management there and several demands that had been made by the bidders,” said the source. However, an AAI spokesperson maintained it was still premature and that the “administrative process was in motion”.
The Chennai Airport management acknowledged that such a decision had been communicated to them verbally, but the official paperwork was pending. “It may take a couple of days, but it looks like this is the end of the indecision. From now on, we will have the mandate to initiate development projects,” said an official. After nearly a year of dillydallying and delaying the bidding four times in eight months, the AAI has reposed faith in its staff to operate the airport. It was modernised at a cost of Rs 2,150 crore, but faced difficulties due to the government’s indecision over privatisation. Nearly 40 per cent of the airport’s operations are presently outsourced, while the remaining is being handled by AAI hands.
If this does end up being the end of the privatisation road for Chennai Airport, then unions and officials who have been protesting against the move will have won a major victory. AAI Employees Union chief L George told Express when the order comes, it was bound to be “amazing news that every employee will celebrate”.