Today's Paper

Decision on four metro airports deferred

New Delhi Jan. 3. The Union Cabinet today authorised the Finance and Civil Aviation Ministries to jointly explore the possibility of Government funding for "fast track" modernisation of the four metro airports to international standards "in the briefest possible time".

The meeting, chaired by the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, deferred by a month a decision on the proposal of the Civil Aviation Ministry for joint-venture privatisation of the Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata airports.

Under this proposal, the Ministry would have to come back to the Union Cabinet for separate clearances for each airport.

To make up for lost time, the meeting asked the Finance and Civil Aviation Ministries to come up with a suggestion on what was the quickest route for modernising the airports — through leasing, as a joint venture with the Airports Authority of India (AAI), or through Government funding.

The Finance Ministry will look at the possibility of funding the airports' modernisation with the AAI, a highly-profitable body.

In its proposal, the Civil Aviation Ministry recommended that no foreign airline or subsidiary be allowed to pick up a majority stake in the airports and that the Air Traffic Control and Airport security be with the AAI.

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