AAI protests privatisation of airports

Several hundred Mumbai-based employees of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), along with their colleagues in other cities, are currently staging a series of protests that began on September 9 against privatisation of various airports in the country. Staffers allege that the privatisation is driven by corporate interests coupled with a nexus between the management, political class and private firms.
Since September 9, staffers wore black caps and badges to work and held lunch-hour demonstrations on all working days. On October 21, a candle march will also be held in Mumbai and other airports across the country followed by a four-day hunger strike from October 22. From October 28, for four days, employees affiliated to all AAI unions will stage a gherao at various airports.
“The government is fast tracking the public private partnership (PPP) model for airports which is detrimental to the growth of government companies like AAI, which is equally capable of developing world class airports with every bit of swank and grandeur. The Mumbai airport is now infamous for having the costliest vehicle parking charges in the country. Moreover, aircraft parking is cheaper than parking cars if one compares additional charge for every hour and this all happened because the airport got privatised,” said Deepak Shinde, national vice-president of the Airport Authority Employees Union (AAEU).
After Delhi and Mumbai, the AAI is set to privatise the profit making Chennai, Kolkata, Goa, Calicut, Ahmedabad, Pune and Juhu, which is being met with stiff opposition from staffers. Officials have also pointed towards “questionable” moves by Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), the new private entity, where they are taking over AAI land — housing employee quarters — that is not in the immediate vicinity of the main airport. “They want unbridled commercialisation which shows their obsession with profit instead of passengers’ welfare,” said an AAI officer.

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