To bring in private operators to run airports, the Union government on July 4 approved privatisation of the Chennai and Kolkata airports, which are currently operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI). Separately, AAI has sought approval from the government to raise Rs 1,000 crore through issue of tax-free bonds to develop 50 low-cost airports in the country. The inter-ministerial group decided to privatise the older terminals by bringing in a joint-venture partner to manage operations at the two airports.
The government's act is much in line with what it has done in Delhi and Mumbai. However, the new terminals built by AAI in both cities may be leased out to a private concessionaire at a pre-determined fee.
A senior official in the ministry said that the AAI has invested substantial resources in modernising the airports at Kolkata and Chennai. The new terminals might be leased out to the private concessionaire who would be asked to pay a compensation for the investments made by the Airports Authority.