Uncertainty prevails over fate of Thiruvananthapuram airport

With the validity of the bids floated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) for the privatisaton of the six non-metro airports ending on Wednesday, uncertainty prevails over the fate of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

The Union Cabinet is yet to take a call on handing over the premier airport of the State, Guwahati, and Jaipur airports to the Adani Enterprises Ltd. (AEL) of Adani Group that has won the bid to manage and operate the airport for 50 years. The process to hand over the other three airports, including the ones in Lucknow and Mangalaru, to AEL has begun.

The State has fought tooth and nail the move to hand over the premier airport to AEL and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has approached Prime Minister Narendra Modi to retain the Thiruvananthapuram international airport in the public sector. A case is also pending at the High Court.

The revelation that the Finance Ministry’s directives were ignored by the AAI while floating the bids had come as a shot in arm for the State. The Civil Aviation Ministry and the Union Cabinet has preferred to go on a slow track and not to offend the LDF-led government in the State that is keen to run the airport on the lines of the CIAL and KIAL.

Amicable solution

The Adani Group that is behind the ambitious Vizhinjam international deepwater seaport coming up in the State capital has preferred a studied silence on the issue. The Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government does not want to offend the AEL and is learnt to be looking for an amicable solution.

As the AAI can extend the validity of the bids by seeking the nod of three bidders — AEL, GMR, and Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Ltd. (TIAL) floated by the Kerala government — this recourse is reportedly being adopted to buy time to take a decision on the issue.

Although the State was informed of this recourse by the Civil Aviation officials on Tuesday, the AAI authorities in Delhi is tight-lipped over the extension of the validity of the bids.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister called on Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Wednesday in Delhi and made another attempt to retain the airport in the public sector.

Mr. Vijayan, who was accompanied by Chief Secretary Tom Jose, said the State is still hopeful of a favourable decision.

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Printable version | Sep 24, 2021 6:39:25 AM |

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