Captains of Kerala’s trade and industry led by the Confederation Indian Industry (CII) have wholeheartedly welcomed the Centre’s decision to hand over the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to the private sector. The Union Cabinet had on Wednesday approved a proposal for leasing out Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvanathapuram airports through Public-Private Partnership (PPP) for a period of 50 years.
The latest announcement comes a year after the Cabinet had similarly cleared the Civil Aviation Ministry’s proposal to lease out Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru airports through PPP to the Adani group. It was the second big airport privatisation round after Delhi and Mumbai were given to GMR and GVK, respectively.
Need for competitiveness
Thomas John Muthoot, Chairman, CII Kerala State Council and Chairman and Managing Director, Muthoot Fincorp, welcomed the decision and said that considering Kerala’s high billing in world tourism charts and regular traffic flow, the Thiruvananthapuram airport needed to be competitive at par with international standards.
“A private investor brings fresh capital to expand facilities and flights so passenger revenues grow and places around the airport get indirect benefit,” he said.
An airport is a commercial and customer services enterprise and therefore not an ideal area for governments to operate in. An efficient, convenient and modern airport will increase air connectivity and promote economic development. Better the airport, more the traffic and increased earnings for the state by way of user fees.
Critical to state’s development
The Thiruvananthapuram airport is extremely critical to the development of the region. The vision to develop the city as a knowledge-driven digital hub is critically dependent on the airport and its connectivity. In spite of being the fifth international airport of India, Thiruvananthapuram has lagged behind its peers.
Several airports in the country got immensely benefited by private investment, and Thiruvananthapuram should not be denied this opportunity. Immediate action should be taken to expedite the process to hand it over to the winning bidder, Thomas John Muthoot said.
Elevating to global standards
Tony Thomas, Consultant, Boston Consulting Group, said that privatisation is a welcome first step in elevating the airport to international standards and to improve the air connectivity.
The proposed international seaport, a revamped International Airport, the National Highway network, proposed ring roads and inland waterway as well as the Silver Line project and metro projects will go to make Thiruvananthapuram a globally competitive city for investments, creating more businesses and job opportunities and improving the living conditions of the local citizens, Tony Thomas said.
EM Najeeb, Chairman, Air Travels Enterprise, said that the decision to hand over the airport to a private operators will substantially contribute the overall development of South Kerala. The tourism sector will definitely benefit once facilities of international airport improve and the national and international connects are ramped up.
Gateway to country/state
MI Sahadullah, Chairman, KIMS Hospital Group said,“In our own experience, privatisation of the Cochin International Airport has certainly brought in a better image to the State and the same thing is the need of the hour in Thiruvananthapuram as well. Multi-skilling and value-added services being introduced by a private enterprise will bring in cost control and employee efficiency.
Value-added inbound travel
“As a representative of the healthcare organisation, I strongly feel that a privatised airport will improve medical value-added travel to the State. Over all, this is a very welcome action by the government and I am positive that this would bring in very many value-added services for passenger comfort”.
Reghuchandran Nair, Ex-Vice-Chairman, CREDAI said that the decision to hand over the operations and management of the international airport to the Adani Group is a welcome move. This will only help spur the development of the region“We request the State government, Opposition parties, political organisations and unions to accept this decision which is based on a transparent tender process,” he added.