The Adani Group has taken over the operation, management and development of the international airport in Thiruvananthapuram, saying it is now a Gateway to Goodness.
Announcing the formal takeover of the airport, the business giant said in a tweet that it was privileged to serve and welcome passengers to God’s Own Country.
“Connecting lives with cherished travel experiences, we are pleased to share that #ThiruvananthapuramAirport is now a #GatewayToGoodness. We are privileged to serve and welcome passengers to God’s Own Country filled with lush greenery, beautiful beaches, and exquisite cuisine”, the Adani Group said in the tweet, both in English and Malayalam, past midnight on 14 October.
According to the civil aviation industry website, Airport Technology,
Airports are… under increasing pressure to expand infrastructure and services to meet this unprecedented demand, but a rise in operating costs and national budget cuts have made this increasingly unattainable for the public sector. Cash-strapped governments could therefore privatise airports to increase investment without impacting their national coffers.
The Adani Group took over the operations of the airport despite protest by both ruling LDF and opposition UDF against handing it over to private players.
Last year, the Kerala Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution protesting the privatisation of the airport.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had criticised the takeover of the airport by the Adani Group, saying it was not for the development of the facility but to protect the interest of monopolies.
Thiruvananthapuram International Airport is the first of four airports in the state. Established in 1932, the airport was owned and operated by the Airports Authority of India.
In August last year, the Kerala Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution, protesting against airport privatisation.
On the other hand, the need for privatising airports is widely accepted across the world. The Department of Transport of the Government of the United Kingdom says,
The government is committed to converting as many as possible of Britain’s airports into private sector companies as part of its policy of reducing the role of the state. The government is confident that the privatisation of airports will bring substantial benefits. Besides reducing the size of the public sector, privatisation will assist the government’s objective of creating wider share ownership. It will also increase employee participation as, in line with previous privatisations, employees will be encouraged to buy shares at the time of sale. Privatisation will also provide for greater freedom for management. For example, airports will have access to private capital. It will also encourage more innovative management, and lead to efficiency gains and greater responsiveness to customers. These benefits will have profound consequences for the future operation of airports in Britain.
The union government and the AAI had gone ahead with the decision to lease out the airport to the Adani Group ignoring the objections of the Kerala Government, which had since then moved the Court. In November last year, the state government petitioned the Supreme Court after the Kerala High Court dismissed its plea opposing the transfer. The decision of the Supreme Court is awaited.
R Madhavan, Regional Executive Director, AAI; NV Subbarayudu, executive director, JVC/PPP, AAI; VB Chandrakumar, general manager (finance), AAI, Chennai; Airport director CV Ravindran, Airport Chief Officer (ATIAL) Madhusoodana Rao, and Rajesh Jha, CEO, Adani Vizhinjam Port Pvt Ltd, and SN Raghuchandran Nair, president, Trivandrum Chamber of Commerce and Industry, were present.