Poor private response keeps merchant airports on tarmac

Written by fe Bureau | Kolkata | Updated: Jun 28 2009, 03:40am hrs
The civil aviation ministry has mothballed the proposal of merchant airports as it did not get a positive response from private players. Announcing this in Kolkata on Friday, civil aviation secretary M Madhavan Nambiar said the ministry is having a re-look at the marketing strategy of airports, hinting that new airports in Chennai and Bengaluru will be under the scanner.

We are now concentrating on the 35 non-metro airports. Depending on the kind of demand we will have to take up the matter (of setting up merchant airport) in a phased manner, Nambiar said.

The civil aviation ministry had come out with the merchant airport proposal where merchant greenfield airports will be set up with the help of private airports. The airports are to be built on private lands within permissible civil aviation parameters and air-traffic management regime.

There has not been much interest among investors, he said.

Present at an interactive session organised by Merchants Chamber of Commerce, Nambiar said: We are giving a re-look at the marketing strategy for airports. We will look at small airports like Coochbehar. We have to understand what is happening and what kind of incentives are required.

The ministry is talking to various stake holders including the state governments to find out ways to increase its revenue. Apart from that, it is also stressing on full utilisation of existing infrastructure of the airports.

Passengers have gone down and airport handling charges have also gone down. Airports like Chennai and Hyderabad have come up recently and if there is a loss of revenue there it will be a loss for the airport authority, Nambiar said.