People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 27

July 07, 2013


CITU Denounces Govt’s Move to Privatise Airports


The following is the statement issued by the CITU on July 4.


THE Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) strongly denounces the government’s move to privatise 15 major airports in the country through so called public-private-partnership route as reported by the press (Times of India of July 4, 2013). Reportedly, the process is to start with inviting global bids for six airports viz., Calcutta, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Guwahati.


It is surprising that, in this beginning round, the government selected such airports, to hand over to private hands, which are having “substantial commercial activities” and higher revenue earnings; and where already huge investments have been made by the government through Airport Authority of India (AAI) for renovation and modernisation.


Only for modernisation and renovation of Calcutta and Chennai airports, Rs 3700 crores have been spent by AAI and also thousands of crores of public money have been spent for modernising other 13 airports. And now, handing over the management and control of those airports to private hands, both domestic and foreign, leaving government-owned Airport Authority only to earn rent/revenue tantamounts to transferring of huge public assets virtually free of cost to private hands. Is the government entitled to fitter away public assets like that?


Most ridiculous is the civil aviation ministry’s argument, quoted by the press, for such a retrograde move of handing over readymade, modernised and high revenue earning airports to private players, which is that such an exercise would improve the management of the airports. Will those wise people say which agency in the country is having more exposure and experience of managing and running airports other than the Airport Authority of India? Or whether the game plan is for handing over the management and control of such vital infrastructure, involving national security like airports, to foreign players? The ministry officials have also reportedly stated that they “are not being allowed to work at a fast pace” and hence let the private players rule on public asset and earn fortune without making any capital investment. This exposes the game plan further: not to allow the Airport Authority of India to operate autonomously through bureaucratic interventions, give them a bad name and pave the way for private and foreign players to reign in. This will in no way be in the national interests and must be stopped forthwith.


The CITU condemns such a disastrous move to hand over the control of management of the vital infrastructure like airports to private hands reducing the Airport Authority to a virtual rent earning non-entity and urges upon to the Government of India to stop such an exercise of privatisation of airports through PPP route which is highly detrimental to national interests.


The CITU calls upon the trade union movement in the country and the workers and unions of civil aviation sector in particular to unitedly resist such a move of privatising airports.