Ground-Handling To Be Opened Up In Six Airports In India

The civil aviation ministry plans to hand over ground-handling operations at the six major international airports in the country to three entities: the airport operator, an independent agency and a joint venture company. Civil aviation minister Praful Patel told mediapersons the independent agencies at the six airports would be chosen after inviting bids from private parties. It is yet to be decided whether the joint venture company will follow a public-private partnership model. At present, Cambata Aviation Private Limited has a bulk of the share in the ground-handling business in Delhi and Mumbai airports. Indian Airlines and Air India manage ground-handling of their fleet through their fully-owned subsidiairies. Given the ministry's plans, private airlines will no longer be able to manage their ground handling work. Ground-handling services in airports include aircraft handling, passenger handling, cargo handling, check-in servites and cargo clearing service. The business, according to Kapil Kaul is estimated to be $200 million or Rs 1,000 crore. The six major airports are: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Bangalore. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) will cater to other non-metro airports. According to an Air India official, the move would result in lowering of the ground handling charges. "If new operators in Delhi and Mumbai airports invite fresh bids, we will bid through our specialised body Air India Air-transport Services Limited," the official said, adding that the move would not greatly affect them. But SpiceJet chairman Siddhant Sharma said, "We are afraid the move will affect us badly. We are fearing two things. One, ground handling costs might go up and two, the quality of service might see a dip." Presently, SpiceJet is managing its own ground-handling requirements at a cost of Rs 6,000 per aircraft.