With Cochin International Airport Limited (CIAL) bidding to operate, manage, and develop the Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Ministry of Civil Aviation may, according to sources, take a positive stance on the State government’s proposal to have a similar management plan for the Calicut airport.
Sources said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has already apprised Union Minister Suresh Prabhu of the proposal of CIAL, in which the State government has a major share, to expand the Calicut airport under the public-private partnership (PPP) mode.
The Union Cabinet has decided to lease out six airports — Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru — under the PPP mode through Public Private Partnership Appraisal Committee (PPPAC). CIAL has met all the pre-bid conditions set by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), including having a net worth of Rs. 1,000 crore.
Possibly, sources said, the Union Cabinet will consider the State’s proposal in the next phase since the PPP airports in the country are ranked among the top five by the Airports Council International in terms of quality of service. At present, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Cochin airports are managed under the PPP model.
Besides, the PPP model would enhance the revenue of the AAI, attract foreign investment and spur economic activity in the region including job creation and infrastructure development. Usually, investors prefer brownfield airports having over 30-lakh passenger capacity for expansion activities.
Despite the ban on operation of wide-bodied aircraft for three years, Calicut airport handled 32 lakh passengers last year.
After the ban was lifted in the first week of December, Saudia (Saudi Arabian Airlines) resumed daily operation of its services. More airlines are expected to follow suit.
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