Airports authority staff threaten strike on privatisation moves

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New Delhi: The Airports Authority Employees Union (AAEU), opposing the regulator’s privatisation plan, has threatened to renew its stir, including a strike call, if the move is not halted.

“If the government does not give us a proper hearing, we shall be constrained to take recourse to industrial action and call for a general strike in AAI,” the AAEU has said in a letter to Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju observing that the decision to privatise violates the Tripartite Committee recommendations accepted by the government.

Pointing out that travelling from Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Bengaluru airports has become very expensive since these have been handed over to private players, the union said: “The services provided at private airports come at a high price, as has been experienced with all the existing private airports where costs borne by the air travellers are much higher in comparison to the AAI-managed airports, where quality service is equally available at a much cheaper price.”

The letter, also protesting privatisation plans for the development, operations and management of four more airports — Chennai, Kolkata, Jaipur and Ahmedabad, has been marked to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, the AAI chairman, the chief labour commissioner and the parliamentary panel for transport, culture and tourism.

Gajapathi Raju had in November said the government will consult all the AAI stake-holders, including the unions, before going ahead with any privatisation or listing plans.

The AAI’s total revenue for the fiscal ending March 2014 stood at Rs.8,184 crore, while profit before tax was Rs.2,685 crore (as per provisional accounts).

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