New Delhi: Employees union of state-run airports on Monday called an all-India strike on 11 March to protest against the Government’s move to hand over airports, in which it has already invested ₹ 5,000 crore public money, to private operators. The decision to strike work was taken at a meeting of the joint forum of Airports Authority of India (AAI) associations and unions held last Friday, Airports Authority Employees Union general secretary and joint form member Balraj Singh Ahlawat said in a letter to the civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju on Monday.
Ahlawat, in the letter, also said AAI employees will start an agitation with luncheon meetings from 24 February, prior to going on strike on 11 March. Alleging that the privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports during the UPA regime was a big “scam" and that civil aviation ministry had “closed down" old airports at Bangalore and Hyderabad without approval of the AAI board, Ahlawat said the government now wants to hand over four more airports, already modernised by AAI, to the private players.
The AAI had last month invited Request For Qualification (RFQ) from domestic and overseas private firms to hand over the management, operation and development of Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports, in which it has already invested ₹ 5,000 crore.
Private corporates including Tata and Adani groups and existing airport operators GMR and GVK groups besides some foreign players have shown interest in the these airports following the RFQ.
Civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi had said last week that the government will do whatever was in the “interest" of the country as far as airport privatization is concerned. “Those who want to oppose will oppose and those who want to support will support... you do what is in the interest of the country," the minister had said.