New Delhi: Former AAI (Airports Authority of India) Chairman VP Agrawal said on Monday that in order to avoid the monopoly situation, AAI should consider allotting no more than two airports to a bidder. The statement comes in the backdrop of the government gearing up to take the next phase of privatisation of airports. It assumes significance because in the previous round, all the six airports that were up for bid were handed over to Adani Group, making the conglomerate — which was a new entrant in the airport business — India's third-largest private airport operator in a jiffy.
While addressing a webinar organised by FAST (Foundation for Aviation and Sustainable Tourism) on "New Initiatives to Rejuvenate Aviation," Agarwal said that the time was not right to take up the next stage of airport privatisation in the country in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pointing out that the private sector may not be able to take up airport development programme particularly in the post-pandemic scenario, the former AAI Chairman suggested roping in state governments and formation of joint ventures for effectively implementing the third phase of the airport development programme, especially for Greenfield airports. "Also their (states') help is taken to acquire crucial parcel of land for airport expansion so that their passenger capacity can be taken to 30 million," said Agrawal.
The former AAI Chairman also underlined the need to utilise the current lean period in the aviation sector towards paying more attention to developing touch-free technology at all airports and course correction in the bidding process. Agrawal also urged planners to correct the framework before taking up airport privatisation programme by way of reviewing the bidding process, reducing the lease period for brownfield airports, revising concession agreement, and adopting the Price Cap Mechanism to safeguard passenger's interest. "The development of 2nd and 3rd-tier airport will reverse migration issues," Agrawal, who is also vice president at FAST, said.
V Somasundram, Former Member (ANS), AAI, emphasised on the need to regain the confidence of air travellers through collective efforts to achieve not only the revival of the aviation sector but also a robust growth. He underlined the following areas as being vital for improvement — enhancing the efficiency and reduction of emission level, flexible use of air space management, air traffic flow management, curtailing the undue delay, adoption of new technology and innovation, reduction in the cost of operation, flight management system and providing safe guards to the interest of various stakeholders.
Somasundram said that in the present times of crisis, the role of CART (Council of Aviation Recovery Task Force) has become more vital and prominent.
Dr RK Tyagi, Former Chairman of HAL and Pawan Hans, and an Independent Director on board of Air India, said in his address that at present a lot of opportunities exist in the Aviation sector to develop India as an MRO hub. DrTyagi also supported the idea to revisit the Higher Bidding Price-based bidding process to achieve better result and reduce dependency on foreign MROs.
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