Airport operations across India are expected to be affected from tomorrow morning as thousands of airport employees will go on a strike from midnight tonight. The Airport Authority Employees Joint Forum has given the strike call. "We have decided to resume our agitation as the ministry is bent on closing down the airports at Hyderabad and Bangalore. As part of this, we will go on a non-cooperation movement at all airports across the country from the midnight of 11-12 March," Airport Authority Employees' Joint Forum convener, M. K. Ghoshal said after the forum held talks with the Civil Aviation Ministry officials.
The existing airports in both the metros are to be closed down after the inauguration of the new greenfield airports there.
A greenfield airport is one which is built from scratch on a new or, undeveloped site. The venture could be entered into on the basis of a Build-Own-Transfer (BOT) arrangement or a Build-Own-Operate (BOO) arrangement.
The Civil Aviation Ministry delegation had visited the airport last week to decide whether the airport could be made operational by the month-end. Karnataka Government officials are likely to meet the delegation today. On Monday, the Karnataka High Court had admitted four public interest litigations, filed separately by an NGO and three city residents, and posted the issue for hearing for March 25.
The petitioners, seeking a stay on the closure of the Bangalore airport, want the existing airport, owned by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, to be continued on grounds that roads connecting the new airport to the city are not yet ready and that people would be put to inconvenience.
However, under the contract with the builders of the new airports in the two cities, the existing airports have to be closed once the new airports become operational.
A large number of international flights take off late at night from various airports around the country. The strike may have a direct impact on the flight schedule.
There are strong growth prospects for airport privatisation in India, given the steady expansion of air transport. According to a World Bank report, private participation in airport development and operation is an accepted concept the world over, as it attracts less investment than privately sponsored projects on other transport segments.
Airport assets are viewed as strategic for national security, and therefore, outright privatisation is often met with resistance from those affected by it.