Friday, June 25, 2021

AP warns against Airport Authority Amendment Bill

Kakinada: The state government has strongly opposed some amendments in the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill 2021 as they would lead to monopolisation in the civil aviation sector.

Margani Bharat, YSRC Parliamentary Party Chief Whip, who is on the civil aviation parliamentary standing committee, opposed the Bill in the Airport Economic Regulatory Committee meeting at New Delhi on Thursday and raised several issues that he said would prove harmful to airports and passengers.

He clarified that the state was not opposing privatization, but would oppose monopoly in privatisation. He said that the amendment of Section 2(i) of the parent Act has a very deep meaning and the repercussions would be terrible.

He said that the intention behind the proposed amendment was to privatise airports under AAI and the Centre would bundle or pair some airports and impose development charges and other tariffs on passengers to benefit the concessionaire.

He said that the foundation for the bill was in 2019 as the then AAI chairman made a statement in 2019 that Vijayawada and Tirupati airports would be privatised. Bharat said that he had opposed the statement at that time. The MP said that Rs 750 crore was allocated for the expansion and modernisation of Vijayawada and Rs 200 crore for the Tirupati airport.

He questioned how AAI and ministry of civil aviation were justifying the move for privatisation after investing nearly Rs 1,000 crore for their expansion and modernisation. He said that there are six airports in Andhra Pradesh and three of them are international airports. Kurnool airport started its operations in March and can’t assess its viability while Rajamahendravaram airport is incurring losses Rs 32.84 crore.

Now once this Bill becomes an Act, the ministry will hand over all these airports to private players either through bunching or pairing and the private players would fleece passengers.

25/06/21 Deccan Chronicle

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