JOY ROY CHOUDHURY – Kolkata
The ministry of civil aviation (MoCA) is likely to handover the maintenance and operations of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata to a private party. According to sources, Changi Airport Group (Singapore) and Flughafen Zurich – operator of Switzerland’s Zurich Airport have evinced keen interest to operate the Kolkata airport. Ajit Singh, union civil aviation minister and senior officials of the ministry were irked by the upkeep and were keen to handover the maintenance and operations to a private operator at the earliest. The ministry has been receiving repeated complaints from MPs, bureaucrats and other passengers.
Kolkata recently opened its international terminal which was built at a cost of `2,325 crore to handle 25 million passengers annually, a leap from the current capacity of 4.8 million a year. But it has failed to meet the expectations of the commuters. During a brief visit at Kolkata airport, KN Shrivastava, union civil aviation secretary asked the airport authorities to sort out the issues, including the mysterious shattering of glass panels and inadequate washrooms in the departure terminal. Meanwhile, VP Agrawal, chairman, Airports Authority of India (AAI) who was also present, informed that steps would be taken up at the earliest to rectify the problems faced by commuters. “We are open to the idea of roping in private players for maintenance and operation of the airport,” he said.
Agrawal added, “We may enter into a JV with a foreign private partner, but nothing has been finalised yet. We are yet to work out the modalities for such an arrangement.” A Planning Commission task force under the chairmanship of BK Chaturvedi, in its deliberation on financing plan for airport during the 12th Five-year plan, had earlier suggested privatisation of the operations and maintenance of government-run airports.