The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is likely to choose from three global firms to manage the new terminals of Chennai airport, according to a top source.

The firms that are being considered are Singapore’s Changi Airport Group, Switzerland’s Flughafen Zurich AG and South Korea’s Incheon International Airport Corporation, the source said.

51 % stake for AAI

The global operator will run the airport in joint venture with the AAI, with the latter holding 51 per cent stake.

“We are working out the modalities for the proposal. It may be too early to divulge more details. But we want the process completed soon,” the source told The Hindu.

The information comes just a few days after Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh said that the AAI may set up joint ventures with foreign airport operators to control the operation and maintenance of Chennai and Kolkata airports.

In January, the Changi Airport Group and Flughafen Zurich AG had shown interest in these two airports.

“The idea behind roping in a foreign operator is to provide better quality of service to passengers. The operator may also be able to offer training to the existing employees of AAI,” the source said.

Investment recovery

When asked if the AAI will be able to recover over Rs. 2,000 crore investment it made in the state-of-the-art terminals if it has to share the revenue with the global operator, the source said, “Since we are the leading partner, we certainly will. Moreover, funds alone are not our focus; we also want to offer better services.”

The Changi airport, the Zurich airport and the Incheon International airport were recently rated among the best in the world by the Airports Council International (ACI), the global body of airports.

“Since they rank very high in ACI’s ratings, the Chennai airport will benefit when one of them is chosen,” said an official of AAI.

The modernisation of Chennai airport that began in 2008 was marred by several problems before the new terminals could be officially commissioned by January 2013.

The state-of-the-art terminals are yet to be officially thrown open to passenger traffic and are expected to be fully functional in the first week of April.