New Delhi: The government on Thursday ruled out disinvestment of Air India (AI) and Airports Authority of India (AAI).
“There is no proposal for disinvestment of AI and AAI,” civil aviation minister Praful Patel told the Lok Sabha.
To a question whether the government was considering Initial Public Offer (IPO) for the national carrier, Patel said “Presently, there is no such proposal.”
When members raised the issue of development fees being levied in privatised airports such as in Delhi and sought abolition of such fees, he said the government had already constituted the Airport Economic Regulatory Authority (AERA) entrusted with the responsibility of deciding on the issue.
Members pointed out that while it was the responsibility of private players to develop the airports, they were charging the passengers for the work.
They suggested that private companies should develop them from their own funds and once they complete the works, they could charge development fees as toll levied for newly-built roads.
Patel said the Delhi and Mumbai airports were charging development fees from passengers against which the Resources of Aviation Redressal Association (ROAR) had protested.
However, there was no protest in this regard from International Air Transport Authority (IATA), he said.
“A Writ Petition has also been filed by ROAR in the Delhi High Court. Development fee at Delhi and Mumbai airports has been levied to bridge the funding gap due to reduced expectation from refundable security deposits as a means of finance,” he explained.
Noting that completion of modernisation of airports in Delhi and Mumbai in a time bound manner was of paramount importance, Patel said out of the total cost of around Rs9,000 crore, about Rs5,500 crore has already been spent.
He said the AAI had already taken up development work on airports in Chennai and Kolkata.
Describing as “not fair” criticisms regarding quality of amenities at airports, the minister said facilities have improved significantly in the recent years.
He also assured members that congestion in air traffic in Delhi would be considerably reduced and the taxiing time for aircraft brought down once the new terminal under construction became operational in 2010.
To another question, Patel said there was no shortage of pilots in the country.
He said in order to have desired quality of pilots over a long period, the Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA) has been modernised to increase its annual capacity from 40 to 100 candidates.
“A world-class flying training institute at Gondia in Maharashtra has been set up with capacity to train 110 candidates annually, including 10 for Commercial Helicopter Pilot Licence training,” he said.
Patel said the government was supporting other flying clubs by providing trainer aircraft through Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and Aero-Club of India (ACI).
He said a new airport for Allahabad could be considered if the Uttar Pradesh government came up with a proposal.
“The present airport is with the defence ministry and only at the request of MPs from the region did we begin civilian air services,” he said adding that if a proposal came from the state government, the ministry will consider it.