Airport Authority of India : Flying Into Rougher Weather?

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) runs under the aegis of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The Airports Authority of India was constituted by an Act of Parliament and came into being on 1 April 1995 by merging the erstwhile National Airports Authority and the International Airports Authority of India. The merger brought into existence a single organisation entrusted with the responsibility of creating, upgrading, maintaining and managing civil aviation infrastructure both on the ground and air space in the country.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) manages a total of 125 airports, which include 11 International airports, 8 Customs airports, 81 Domestic airports and 25 Civil Enclaves at Defence airfields. AAI also provides Air Traffic Management Services (ATMS) over the entire Indian Air Space and adjoining oceanic areas with ground installations at all airports and 25 other locations to ensure safety of aircraft operations.
The airports at Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Calicut, Guwahati, Jaipur,Trivandrum, Kolkata and Chennai, are International airports open to operations by foreign International Airlines as well. Besides, the International flights, National Flag Carriers operate from airports likeCoimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, Varanasi, and Gaya. Tourist Charters now touch Agra, Coimbatore, Jaipur, Lucknow, Patna and many other airports.

The functions of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) include :

  •  Design, Development, Operation and Maintenance of international and domestic airports and civil enclaves.
  •  Control and Management of Indian airspace extending beyond the territorial limits of the country, as accepted by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
  •  Construction, Modification and Management of passenger terminals.
  •  Development and Management of cargo terminals at international and domestic airports.
  •  Provision of passenger facilities and information system at the passenger terminals at airports.
  •  Provision of visual aids.
  •  Provision of communication and navigation aids.

The objectives of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are :

  •  To provide a boost to international trade and tourism and enhance the country’s image in the community of nations.
  •  To provide airport capacity ahead of demand, in order to handle an increasing volume of air traffic and to garner the maximum share of traffic in the region.
  •  To enhance airport facilities to make the airport user friendly and achieve higher level of customer satisfaction.
  •  To ensure total safety and security of aircraft operations by the introduction of state-of-art air traffic, security and related services.
  •  To provide a market orientation to the present structure, bridge the resource gap and encourage greater efficiency and enterprise in the operation of airports, through the introduction of private capital and management skills.
  •  To foster the development of a strong airport infrastructure, maintaining a balance between the need for economic viability and the objective of equitable regional dispersal of infrastructural facilities.
  •  To lay special emphasis on the development of infrastructure for remote and inaccessible areas, especially the North East, the hilly and island regions.
  •  To encourage transparency and clarity in the decision-making processes of Government and its public sector units.

There is a long list of challenging tasks and responsibilities entrusted to the Airports Authority of India. Over the years, how has it fared in handling these tasks and responsibilities? The fact that a lot of criticism is still directed at it tells its own story. AAI’s maintenance levels come in for frequent criticism. Many of the airports are incapable of providing sitting arrangements for the travellers in times of emergencies or delays and cancellation of flights. This creates a lot of additional stress for the travellers who are already facing problems and lack of adequate facilities adds to their misery. Inability to eliminate bird hits, which usually occur due to the wastage thrown by the people residing in the neighbouring areas of an airport, is another point of criticism. Corruption is yet another major aspect which has dented the image of the Airports Authority ofIndia. The margin of corruption in the AAI is huge and it starts from the very first step of acquiring of land. Private companies buy lands at a lower price from the owners of the land and claim disproportionately higher amounts from of the Government, often with the full knowledge and complicity of Government officials. The same story is repeated when it comes to buying equipments and the process taken up by the private companies in same manner as that of the land. Theft from passengers luggage has been a very common issue for the Airports Authority of India and many such cases go unreported as the passengers have no confidence that the AAI will be able pursue the matter seriously. Passengers claim that the procedure is very cumbersome  first you have to prove that the stolen item was in your checked in luggage! The actual construction of new airports in India also provides major opportunities for big money to change hands. But getting a new airport cleared is no easy matter either, perhaps because there are too many vested interests involved. For instance, the Union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh has been consistently demanding a green signal for Partapur airport at Meerut. But the results have not been very fruitful so far. With more and more people opting for flying as a means of transportation, the Airports Authority of India obviously has its tasks cut out for the future. It must ensure that it doesn’t carry its current drawbacks as well into the future.

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POST-CONTRACTUAL BENEFITS TO DIAL: CAG
DIAL allowed rights of commercial exploitation of 240 acres against equity contribution of Rs. 2,450 crores


Greenfield The Government violated tender norms for the Delhi airport by extending post-contractual benefits to Delhi International Airport Ltd, or DIAL, the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) said in a report tabled in Parliament in August 2012.
DIAL, a consortium led by the GMR Group that won the bid, was allowed rights of commercial exploitation of 240 acres of land against an equity contribution of Rs. 2,450 crore, CAG said in the report, adding that the land was valued at Rs. 24,000 crore by the airport regulator.
Potential revenue from this land in licence fee for 58 years was calculated by DIAL at about Rs. 1.64 trillion, of which DIAL’s share would be Rs. 88,337 crore, it added.
“Allowing these post contractual benefits violated the tendering process by which the joint venture partner was selected,” CAG said in the report.
DIAL has said it won the bid to develop Delhi airport through a global tender where terms like concessional land and usage of 5 per cent of airport land for commercial purposes were available to all bidders.

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