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AAI facilities to get Rs.17,500 cr. lift

Airports Authority of India (AAI) will invest Rs.17,500 crore as capital expenditure towards airport infrastructure development till 2019-20, its chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said. “A significant chunk will go towards air navigation services (ANS). We have already recruited 800 employees in 2015-16 in the ANS division and will hire more going ahead,” Mr. Mohapatra said, in his first press briefing after taking charge as AAI Chairman in July. He said AAI is not willing to divest stakes in any of its airports to private developers as of now. “Instead, we are trying the model of outsourcing the airport terminal management. Apart from that, there is no public private partnership (PPP) proposal on cards,” he said. AAI will seek the Finance Ministry’s nod this month to invite global tenders for handing over operations and management of the Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports’ terminal buildings to private players, he said. AAI is hopeful of inviting the tenders by November.
India’s aviation authority had signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Singapore’s Changi airport for operations and management of airport terminal buildings at Jaipur and Ahmedabad. However, Mr. Mohapatra said certain terms were not agreeable by both the parties following which the talks were called off. Out of 125 airports managed by AAI, 69 airports receive commercial flights and another 20 airports “are ready” for flight operations, Mr. Mohapatra said. The airports include: Jaisalmer, Bhatinda, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Tezpur, Shillong, Diu among others.
He said the authority has hired a consultant to study the feasibility of offering the Juhu airport runway for non-commercial operators. “The extension of the runway looks difficult due to slum issues,” Mr. Mohapatra said. On pending dues with various airlines, Mr. Mohapatra said, “We strictly review and monitor the pending dues.” Asked about Kingfisher Airline’s pending dues, he said, “The whole country is chasing him (Vijay Mallya). We are also chasing him.” Kingfisher Airlines owes Rs.294 crore as dues to the airport authority and several of the now defunct carrier’s aircraft are lying idle at various AAI airports across the country.

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