New Delhi: The civil aviation ministry plans to go ahead with the implementation of a new ground handling services policy at six key airports after the 30 June deadline passes, discounting the possibility of an extension of the cut-off date sought by airlines.
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With the June-end deadline approaching, civil aviation secretary M. Madhavan Nambiar reviewed the status of its implementation on Monday with top airport operators and National Aviation Co. of India Ltd-run Air India.
Under the new policy, only Air India, the airport operator and a third private operator will be allowed to provide ground handling services from July.
The meeting was attended by senior officials from the Airports Authority of India (AAI), which runs the Kolkata and Chennai airports, Delhi International Airport Pvt. Ltd, Mumbai International Airport Pvt. Ltd, Bangalore International Airport Ltd, GMR Hyderabad International Airport Pvt. Ltd and Air India’s chairman and managing director Arvind Jadhav.
The officials reviewed preparations of both the airport operators and the national carrier to implement the policy, said two senior government officials who didn’t want to be named. “It has been decided to put it in place from 1 July for all metro airport operators,” one of the two officials said.
Mumbai and New Delhi have already have selected at least one ground handler while the new Bangalore airport works with a single operator.
New policy: A file photo of the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi. Implementation of the policy has already been delayed. Madhu Kapparath / Mint
Chennai and Kolkata airports are expected to complete the process of selecting ground handlers by early June from among 11 bidders. Air India, which tied up with Singapore Air Terminal Services, or Sats, is also expected to be ready.
Airport operators see ground handling as an additional revenue source. The combined annual revenue from ground handling services at the six airports is estimated at Rs500 crore.
The new policy which will also streamline airport operations and increase efficiency, its supporters say. Airlines say it would increase their operational costs and require them to lay off their own ground handlers.
“We have principally not opposed outsourcing as long as the cost are competitive. When there are fewer ground handlers, it does not seem to work in our favour because the costs go up,” said Samyukth Sridharan, chief commercial officer of low-fare airline firm SpiceJet Ltd.