Private Managements Take Over Delhi, City Airports

: Opening a new chapter in the history of Indian civil aviation, the Delhi and Mumbai airports have been handed over to private sector managements. The operations, maintenance and development agreement (OMDA) for the two airports have been implemented with effect from the midnight of May 2.

Officials said all operations from the early morning of May 3 are being carried out by the joint venture companies formed for corporatisation of the two airports. Till the takeover by the private sector managements, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) was managing the Delhi and Mumbai airports.

While all revenue accruing after May 2 midnight will go into the account of the joint ventures. They would also be responsible for liabilities from the time of transition, said Jatin Aneja, partner with Amarchand Mangaldas, the legal consultant to the airport modernisation process.

For practical purposes, the management would be run jointly for a period of three months. The 'hand-holding' process would help the joint venture to avoid teething troubles. GMR-Fraport consortium is the private sector partner for the Delhi airport joint venture while the GVK-South African Airports team is the partner for the Mumbai airport.

The airport modernisation process is going ahead smoothly, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said. When asked about the litigation over selection of partners, he said there was no stay on the process going forward. We are bound by the Supreme Court's ruling and we will keep the court informed of all developments, he added.

The Reliance Airports-ASA consortium had moved the high court against selection of partners but the petition was turned down. The Anil Ambani-owned company has now appealed to the Supreme Court. Mr Aneja said largescale investment is expected to flow into the Delhi and Mumbai airports following handing over of the managements to private players.

This is a major opportunity to turn the two airports into a showcase of India so that foreign tourists get a great first impression upon landing here, he added. It is estimated that the two airports would attract investments to the tune of at least $2 bn each.