Though the Airports Authority of India (AAI) is keen on privatising airports run by it, its employees seem to be wary of their career prospects under the new private concessionaire who has taken over six airports in the country. The three-year joint operation by the employees of the AAI and the Adani Group has been completed in three airports, namely Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow, but not a single AAI employee in these airports was ready to accept the offer letter of the private concessionaire.
Instead, they decided to work in other airports under the AAI. All the employees were given relieving letters on October 31 when the joint operation period ended. In the case of Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati and Jaipur airports, the joint operation will be completed only by next year as their takeover was delayed by a year following court battles. A combined operation for three years was suggested to give the new operator time to familiarise themselves with the airport operation.
Among the six airports, only one employee had joined the Adani Group-run management — in Thiruvananthapuram. According to AAI sources, the employees have been on leave since November 1 and a meeting of employees’ representatives with AAI officials, scheduled for Friday in New Delhi, will explore the possibility of extending the period for a brief time, said sources.
Loss for six airports
Meanwhile, all six airports privatised in the last term incurred a combined cumulative loss of ₹994.79 crore in the financial year 2022-23. Among the airports, Ahmedabad registered the highest loss of ₹408.51 crore, while Thiruvananthapuram incurred a loss of ₹ 110.15 crores, second lowest after Guwahati which reported a loss of ₹60.97 crores. Interestingly, Thiruvananthapuram has registered a profit of ₹141.87 crore in the 2017-18 period.
According to an estimate prepared by government agencies ahead of the privatisation, it was estimated that AAI would earn a profit of ₹179 crore from the Thiruvananthapuram airport for the financial year 2020-21 (on the basis of the per passenger fee (PPF) offered by the winning bidder for Thiruvananthapuram airport), as against an estimated profit of ₹153 crore had it been operated by the AAI itself. However, the AAI, which leased the airport to the Adani Group, could earn only ₹91.12 crore in 2022-23.
25 airports to be leased
Further, as per National Monetization Pipeline (NMP), 25 AAI airports, namely, Bhubaneshwar, Varanasi, Amritsar, Trichy, Indore, Raipur, Calicut, Coimbatore, Nagpur, Patna, Madurai, Surat, Ranchi, Jodhpur, Chennai, Vijayawada, Vadodara, Bhopal, Tirupati, Hubli, Imphal, Agartala, Udaipur, Dehradun and Rajahmundry have been earmarked for leasing over the years from 2022 to 2025.