A private player has already won a bid to operate the Thiruvananthapuram international airport but the central government will take a view on the second bidder, the Kerala government, in the coming days, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in the Rajya Sabha, on July 3, 2019. “This is privatisation (of Thiruvananthapuram airport). One private bidder has got it and then, the Kerala government is apparently a second bidder. We have to examine that bid. I have seen a communication from the chief minister of Kerala and we will be taking a view on this in the coming days,” Puri said. The cabinet has approved privatisation of six airports including one in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala, he said during the Question Hour in the upper house.
To a question by BJP MP from Andhra Pradesh TG Venkatesh, on opening Kurnool airport to the general public, the minister said work was in progress. When the BJP member further asked if there are plans to operate flights from Kurnool airport to other major cities, Puri said the centre had given clearance to the airport. “The operation of flights and other arrangements, will depend on both, the airport operator and private operator,” he added.
To a query by Congress MP T Subbarami Reddy, on the commencement of Bhogapuram Airport, a greenfield airport project in Vishakapatnam, the minister said, “The tender has been awarded. The company which has to do the work has already been listed. We are in a position to facilitate this as and when it is ready.”
Kerala expresses unwillingness to hand over Thiruvananthapuram airport to Adani Group
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, has expressed the state government’s unwillingness to hand over the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani Group, saying that it should be given to the state government or remain with the current administration
June 14, 2019: Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, on June 13, 2019, said the state government was not ready to hand over the Thiruvananthapuram airport to the Adani Group and told the state assembly that he would convey the same to prime minister Narendra Modi. The Adani Group had, in February, won the bid to operate five out of six airports, including the Thiruvananthapuram airport, proposed for privatisation by the central government.
The state government had earlier appealed to the centre, to reconsider its decision to lease out Thiruvananthapuram aerodrome for operation, management and development, under the public-private partnership (PPP). “Without the cooperation of the state government, no private company can develop the airport properly,” Vijayan told the assembly. “Our stand is clear…that the airport cannot be handed over to private parties. Either hand it over to the state government, or carry on with the current administration. Will meet the prime minister with regard to this matter during the NITI Aayog meet in Delhi,” Vijayan said.
He was replying to a call attention motion by CPI MLA C Divakaran. In a letter to the prime minister in March, Vijayan had demanded that the airport’s operation be handed over to the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport Ltd (TIAL) floated by the government-run Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC). However, the Adani Group had emerged as the highest bidder for managing, operating and developing six AAI airports, which are to be privatised.
The airport was established in 1932 on 258.06 acres of land owned by the princely state of Travancore, of which the state is the successor. The 258.06 acres of land had been entered into the revenue records as government land. The AAI itself has admitted that only 0.05756 hectares out of the total extent of 636.57 acres of land is under its ownership. The state government states it has the expertise in airport management and also credit-worthiness, more than that of the private entity, which does not possess previous experience in airport management. Vijayan had said the decision on the privatisation move was ‘totally disappointing’ and had come at a time, when the state government was going ahead with steps to acquire 18 acres for the development of the airport.