The AAI employee union will intensify its agitation against the government’s move to privatise six of its airports following the AAI seeking bids from interested parties, a union member said Monday.
Last month, the government cleared a proposal for managing six AAI-run airports – Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Ahmedabad and Jaipur – on public-private partnership (PPP) basis.
However, Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU) is opposing the move, which comes ahead of the general polls next year, on the ground that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has invested huge money on these airports and it will not be able to get any return on the investment.
“We are opposed to privatisation and we will continue opposing it. We will intensify our agitation with more demonstrations as the government is going ahead with its proposal despite just about four months left in the general polls,” the union member said.
“The NDA does not seem to be confident of retaining power and that is why its government at the Centre is putting every thing on the block and expediting the sale process as well,” alleged the member.
Significantly, apart from attempting to handover these public airports to the corporate entities, the government is also in the process of privatising profit-making Pawan Hans.
It also attempted to privatise Air India earlier this year, but could not succeed.
As part of an open international competitive bidding process, the AAI has sought bidders for carrying out operations, management and development of the six airports.
The AAI will choose the bidders to operate these six on the basis of “per-passenger fee” and finalise the bids on February 28.
“We are not fighting for our jobs. We are fighting for passengers. The privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports has only led to high cost and this burden is being faced by the passengers who are forced to shell out huge money in the form of various fee,” the member alleged.
Earlier last week, hundreds of AAI employees from across airports in the country observed a three-day relay hunger strike to protest the move.
The AAEU, which represents 9,000 employees, had staged protests across the country on December 4 also against the government’s decision.
In similar but separate tender documents issued on December 14, the AAI said that the successful bidders would be decided on the basis of fee that would be charged from each domestic passenger.
The deadline for submitting the bids is February 14 and the winning bidders would be finalised on February 28.
According to the AAI, the move to manage the six airports on a PPP basis is part of initiatives to provide world class infrastructure and services to stakeholders.