Stating that it makes “neither economic sense nor common sense to hand over public property for private profit-making,” Mr Sitaram Yechury, chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport said the committee was against the privatisation of airports of the country. “We have adopted a report on privatisation of airports. I cannot disclose all the details till it is presented to the chairman of the Rajya Sabha… But I can tell you that we are totally against handing over public assets to private companies,” he told journalists on the sidelines of an inauguration of a flying school in the city. The CPI (M) Polit Bureau member suggested that instead of privatisation, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) should be allowed to offer long-term management contracts for running of airports to private companies Referring to the experience of privatisation at the Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi, Mr. Yechury said: “Delhi is today the most expensive airport in the whole world. There is a cess on landing which is not there anywhere in the world.” His remarks assume significance as the Ministry of Civil Aviation is planning to roll out a second wave of privatisation for six airports including Kolkata and Chennai. Mr. Yechury said that if the Ministry did not reconsider this move “it will have to submit a report to Parliament on why it is not accepting our [standing committee’s] proposals.” Asked about the city’s airport, he said that though not official, it is learnt that the airport authority had finalised a contract for its management with the Changi Airport but was not allowed to sign the deal. Speaking at the launch of the Bharat Aviation Training Institute, he said there was a fall in air traffic due to the global recession but a turnaround in the aviation sector was already in the offing with new airlines starting their operations. “What is bleak will not remain so in future. There will be turnaround in the industry,” Mr. Yechury said.
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