New Delhi Court Rejects Appeal Against Airport Privatization

NEW DELHI_The New Delhi Supreme Court on Friday rejected an appeal against the government's decision to award contracts to two foreign companies to privatize the new Delhi and Bombay airports.

The court rejected the appeal from the Reliance group, which was one of the bidders for the contracts, saying the government decision was in no way "discriminatory, illogical or illegal."

Reliance had argued that the process was illegal because the government changed the criteria during the tender.

Earlier this year contracts were awarded to the GMR-Fraport consortium, a joint venture between India's GMR and Germany's Fraport AG, to take over New Delhi's airport, and to India's GVK along with Airports Company South Africa, to run Bombay airport.

The private consortiums will modernize the two airports, which together handle almost 65 percent of India's international passenger traffic - about 19 million passengers a year. Both airports have long been criticized for their inefficiency and lack of comfort.

The announcement of the deals sparked four days of strikes by airport employees who fear they could lose their jobs.

But the government insists it needs a sweeping program to modernize its aging airports, currently struggling to cope with booming air traffic caused by the country's rapid economic growth.