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Updated: June 8, 2013 08:37 IST

Airport’s privatisation proposal gets a push

Sunitha Sekar
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Maintenance of Chennai airport has been far from satisfactory. A few days ago, some passengers were stung by bees that have built a hive on the premises. Photo: M. Srinath
The Hindu
Maintenance of Chennai airport has been far from satisfactory. A few days ago, some passengers were stung by bees that have built a hive on the premises. Photo: M. Srinath

Chennai may just be the first of the selected airports

A key infrastructure development (KID) cell has been created by the government to push forward and speed up a public-private partnership mode to professionally manage “certain identified” airports. Chennai may just be the first of the selected airports, officials of the Airports Authority of India and the civil aviation ministry, said.

For air passengers, this could mean better facilities at the airport, said a ministry official. “I’m not at all happy with the way Chennai airport is maintained. Also, personnel of the Central Industrial Security Force and AAI officials are sometimes at loggerheads. Because of this, I was even denied entry to the airport once, and briefly locked up at a point inside the airport,” he said.

The cell, comprising five AAI members will function as the nodal point to bring in the PPP mode, and will also perform groundwork for the ministry. Another official said a similar cell was formed when Mumbai and Delhi airports were privatised.

“The five members, who will report to the joint secretary in charge of the airport division in the ministry, will assist the ministry in various aspects to execute the project, including in the appointment of technical, legal and financial consultants. The cell will function until the project is completed, after which it will be disbanded,” he said.

Passengers say better maintenance of the premises would be welcome, as problems continue to dog the new domestic terminal.

An AAI official admitted that water seepage inside the new domestic terminal had turned into a persistent issue for passengers, especially after this week’s rains.

“One of the lifts was not working for an hour and there was water seepage near the X-ray machine and a passengers’ mobile phone became wet. The problem is, when the lift near the VIP lounge does not work, passengers are literally locked inside the lounge and have to watch their flights departing from the balcony. This is because the staircase near the VIP lounge is locked for security reasons. These are just a few of many problems, and there is a pressing need to privatise this airport now,” he said.

Last month, the minister for civil aviation, Ajit Singh, said global bids would be floated soon for the professional management of Chennai and Kolkata airports under the PPP mode.

Some AAI officials however said they were unhappy with this move. “What is the need to privatise a profit-making airport? We are now in constant fear of losing our jobs. Every new terminal has teething problems. They will be sorted out soon,” said another official.

More In: Chennai | News

The CISF personnel and AAI staff are an eyesore to the Chennai Airport. Job security for C and D class at airports run by AAI has created a militant attitude by the employees. These people should be sacked and CISF personnel definitely need orientation for behaving with air passengers. As rightly pointed by another reader here, the airport managers show no concern or job responsibility when handling a situation.

The paramedics are absent in Chennai airport for many years now and situation continues still after spending 2000 crore rupees. The swindling of car parking charges continue. Why cant any Chennaite who vociferously defend their crumbling airport take any action on this day robbery. Its impossible for anybody to drop a passenger and get out the nightmare namely, car parking access and drop off.

It seems the set up itself is done to loot people. AAI and private contractors are synonymous with corruption and dismal service.

from:  Syed
Posted on: Jun 9, 2013 at 19:06 IST

If there was so much money invested in modernisation, why wasn't the
initial plan included maintenance and support activities. This is the
very sorry state in almost every public sector infrastructure
development. There is some much of hype and hoopla in coming up with
new buildings but once it is constructed the infrastructure gets
deteriorated over years. Even today if you walk into the airport in
Singapore or Malaysia you can't tell the airport has been there for
20+ years. It's maintained so well - surprisingly majority of the
support staff in these airports are Indians as well. Clearly it's not
an issue with the quality of work, its rather the accountability and
the pride of ownership.

from:  Kripa
Posted on: Jun 9, 2013 at 12:35 IST

The AAI officials who handled this 2200 crore project should be shifted
to small time airports as a punishment for making a mess of 2200 crores
... or they should be forced to take voluntary retirement

from:  Rajiv
Posted on: Jun 9, 2013 at 12:03 IST

the upkeep and the maintenance of the Chennai airport is hideous. The last time i
have been there; there was water leaking from the ceiling. I would much prefer the
Hyderabad (excellent maintenance) airport to Chennai. A ridiculous charge for
parking, just 5 minutes to drop travelers.

from:  Lakshman
Posted on: Jun 9, 2013 at 07:01 IST

AAI is admitting that they can't professionally manage airports by making this proposal. This is really an unacceptable state of affairs & only goes to show why the govt should not be managing airports or airlines. What should have been a major show case as the gate way to South India has been reduced to a laughing stock. Everyone should share the blame for this including the Central govt, State govt, AAI & the public who seem to put up with a shoddy airport & poor service. How many people have bothered to make an official complaint to the airport director & take to the social media to put pressure & demand change? this only goes to show why aviation in India is in such a sad state. The whole sector has been a mess from the very beginning & everyone has to suffer because of gross incompetence & total unprofessionalism from the powers that be. For how much longer will people silently put up with this & will they wake up say/do something?

from:  Ganesh K. Nathan
Posted on: Jun 9, 2013 at 02:59 IST

Chennai airport needs the following things immediately:
1. World class clean toilets in domestic and international terminals.
Also get rid of water leaks everywhere.
2. Lifts, escalators that are functioning 24/7, 365 days of the year. Make the maintenance people look at it frequently and fix problems before they come serious.
3. Handling of cars dropping off and picking up passengers without regard to who they are related to.
3. Full length of second runway should be made operational instead of only partially. Get rid of everything that comes in the way of the second runway. What is the use of building a runway if you cannot use the full length of it?
4. A third runway. Think big.
5. Lot more jetways. Come on now, don't build 5 or 10 jet-ways. Have at least 50 fully operational jet-ways.
6. Professional managers. Privatize the airport. Add some aesthetic touches. AAI guys do not know anything about aesthetics, cleanliness or punctuality as they are not accountable to anyone.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Jun 9, 2013 at 00:00 IST

This is amazing! At least one positive side that the air is free of
pollution otherwise the bees would not have ventured inside.

from:  Badal
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 23:37 IST

Maintenance alone can not make up for design deficiencies. What is the action plan to
address this? Also, if the IAAI officials feel that they are competent, then the private
contractor could employ them on contract on better terms than IAAI.

from:  Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 20:59 IST

I have been blessed to see some of the good airports in the world and chennai is the worst.Whenever i land at chennai airport i lament at the way they maintain.It is right time that the operation is done by a good and efficient private sector company.Even at the execution stage corruption plays a major role.....

from:  kirubakaran
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 20:32 IST

AAI manages more than 100 airports. Have invested thousands of crores of rupees. But AAI is incompetent to manage and maintain airports at world standards. The so called job security offered to the group C and D workers, a few employees of these categorie work sincerely. The remaining majority do not contribute productively to the organisation. In fact the lack of cleanliness and maintenance of AAI managed airports is due to these employees. Even contract for house keeping is awarded to parties who are ill qualified to maintain airports at world standards. AAI with so many years of experience has never offered any world class food stalls or shopping facilities to its passengers. The fixtures and furnitures provided at the AAI airports are not of the higest standards of quality. Being a public sector undertaking it's hands are tied with lots of procedures rules and regulations in tender processing and officers try to play safe. AAI can't manage Chennai Airport unlike private operators.

from:  joseph
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 17:57 IST

why dont u privatise parliament???....its condition is more worst the
chainnai airport.....privatisation is not only solution 4 any thing u
should make tough rule for employe or give them proper
guidence...private company will only work for there own profit

from:  ajay kumar
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 16:06 IST

& privatisation is the magic word as always isn't it?? proving again &
again that govt sector is ineffective & inefficient. High time for a
change, don't you think?

from:  lrcquest
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 14:55 IST

Sir, I am frequent flyer from and to the chennai airport. The security
personnel are not friendly to the air passengers. I use to witness they
pay much attention to the political and party leaders who use the
airport in the government money but not pay attention to the air
passengers who use their own hard earned money to use the airports.
Everything should be changed for the good of the passengers. security
personnel inside the airports and the police personnel outside the
airport need to learn how to behave politely with the public.

from:  Mohamed Haja Jaffer ali
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 13:47 IST

This is a ridiculous situation to be in. You build a 2000 crore rupees structure
meant to show case Chennai and the AAI have not still decided who maintains it.
The problem is there are too many officials with no CEO for the airport and these
bunch of jokers will keep arguing about whose fault it is.

from:  Sri
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 12:09 IST

What will happen to the AAI staff. Govt cannot pay them just like that
from the tax paid by public......

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: Jun 8, 2013 at 10:32 IST
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