Raju denies scrapping of privatisation of four airports

Hyderabad, Sep 10 (IANS) Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Thursday denied that proposal to privatise four AAI-run airports has been scrapped.

“Nobody has scrapped anything. The world is open. Everybody is functioning. Government is functioning,” he told reporters on the sidelines of inauguration of customer training centre of Pratt & Whitney at Hyderabad airport.

“We want to grow economically. Where we see economic opportunity we will grow. Our thrust will be employment of Indian people,” he said to queries about the government’s stand on the privatization proposal. He, however, declined to spell out the government’s action plan on the issue.

The minister was asked about reports that the government has withdrawn the documents inviting bids from private players for operation, management and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) had last year issued Request for Qualification (RFQ) documents for developing these four airports.

On AAI proposal to develop airports in public private partnership (PPP) model, Raju said if the state governments come forward, modern airports like the one in Hyderabad can be developed.

On 5/20 rule, he said that he is against restrictive policies that would hamper the growth of the civil aviation industry.

“All should come up. It should not be like in the past when one was growing at the expense of other,” he said.

“I am individually against any type of restrictive activity,” the minister said to a query about the the rule which allows only those Indian carriers, which have completed five years of domestic operations and have a fleet of 20 aircraft, to fly on international routes.

The new airlines and the experts have opposed the rule saying this would restrict growth of the aviation sector in the country.

To another query, the minister said the government would seek public opinion on draft aviation policy. “The new aviation policy whenever it reaches a particular stage before finalization will be put in the public domain. We don’t want to do anything secretively. We need everybody’s inputs,” he said.

Stating that growth of aviation was directly linked to economic growth, Raju said the sector in India had been confined to passenger traffic. “We are taking steps to give thrust to the cargo,” he said.

The minister said modern airports like Hyderabad and Bengaluru and the government agencies at other airports were trying to promote cargo. He pointed out that 12 freighters were being operated from Bengaluru, helping the farmers to exports their horticulture and floriculture produce.

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