Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep S Puri on the Thiruvananthapuram Airport PPP model:
Kerala is the pioneer as far as airports under Public Private Partnership are concerned.
First PPP airport in India came up in Kochi in Kerala. It is a successfully run airport with a capacity of 13 Million Passengers Per Annum & was handling 9.62 MPPA in 2019-20 before COVID19.
Another very successful example of PPP mode is Kannur, also situated in Kerala. In fact, it was during the UDF regime in Kerala that the foundation for Kochi airport was laid in 1994 & the airport was inaugurated in 1999 during LDF regime.
Now, Kerala Government, running two very successful airports in PPP mode, is opposing the handing over of Thiruvananthapuram airport under PPP mode.
It has come to my knowledge that an all-party meeting in Kerala has opposed the PPP model at Thiruvananthapuram airport.
Delhi & Mumbai airports which together handle approx 33% of India’s passenger traffic movement were privatised in 2006-07 under PPP mode by Congress led UPA Govt. In comparison the 6 airports now being handed over, only handle less than 10% of country’s total passenger traffic.
If Kerala Govt is against privatisation, then why did it participate in the bidding process?
State Govt was given a fair chance & Right of First Refusal (RoFR) if their bid was within 10% below the range of highest bid. However, they bid 19.64 % below.
Then they approached Hon’ble Kerala High Court which dismissed the petition in Dec 2019.
Petitioners then filed a SLP in Hon’ble SC. Apex Court remitted the matter back to Hon’ble Kerala High Court. There is no stay in the case either by Hon’ble SC or Hon’ble Kerala High Court.
The Union Cabinet has given its go-ahead for awarding the airport to the private party subject to the outcome of Writ Petition & in accordance with provisions of undertaking given by the Concessionaire.
If the petitioners succeed & outcome of litigation leads to annulment/cancellation of bidding process then the Concessionaire will handover the possession of airport to AAI. They will be entitled to refund of amount paid to AAI & additional investments made in the assets.
The Concessionaire will also not demand any damages from AAI. Here it should be borne in mind that these airports will come back to AAI after the lease period of 50 years.
Further, sovereign functions like Customs, Security, Immigration, Plant & Animal Quarantine, Health Services, Communication & Navigation Surveillance / Air Traffic Management services will continue to be provided by the Government agencies.