In a letter to the chief ministers of Gujarat, West Bengal, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Assam, the forum has requested for a meeting with them in order to ‘immediately intervene and stop the proposed action.’
    
The Ministry has decided to hand over the operations, management and development of six Airports Authority of India (AAI)-run airports in Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Guwahati to private parties on a public-private partnership basis.
    
"The forum requests your immediate intervention to stop the proposed action of the government to sell AAI equity in the Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur and Guwahati airports," forum chairman and Trinamool Congress MP Saugata Roy said in the letter to these chief ministers.
    
Noting that the government has already invested heavily in developing these airports, the forum said that the Ministry's move will only lead to escalation of airport costs.
    
"Even global airlines body IATA has opposed privatization on grounds that unnecessary private equity may increase the focus on profit maximization and a consequent increase in costs to users," the forum said.
    
Prior to the privatization of Delhi and Mumbai airports in 2006, a user had to pay only Rs 225 as passenger service fee. Post-privatization, the two operators- GMR of Delhi and GVK of Mumbai - now charge hefty user development fees from the passengers.
    
These six airports together handled 3.26 crore passengers in FY12, the forum said, adding with Delhi and Mumbai-the cash cows of the authority- already with private players, taking away these six airports will sound the death knell for the entity.
    
Maintaining that privatization of Delhi and Mumbai airports had led to huge revenue loss for the AAI, it said that the new move ‘amounts to shutting down a government undertaking from the back door.’
    
The AAI staffers have been sporting black badges since Tuesday as a part of their protest and union leaders are working on an action plan which would include gate meetings, hunger strikes, demonstrations and a nationwide strike, if the government goes ahead with the plan.
    
"This rabid privatization would only benefit private parties and a few politicians. They are handing over these airports, which have already been modernized and upgraded by AAI by spending public funds," the union leaders said.
    
According to a Planning Commission report, the government has already invested over Rs 5,000 crore in modernizing these airports.
    
The AAI, with around 18,000 workforce operates 123 of the country's 134 airports, including 12 international ones.

(Agencies)

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