Thousands of AAI employees and officers under a joint forum on Monday held demonstrations at the AAI's headquarters in New Delhi and at airports across India to protest handing over of six airports to Adani group. The hour-long "peaceful" demonstrations were held during lunch time without disruption in work, said an official of the Joint Forum of AAI (Airports Authority of India) Unions and Associations.
Last year, the government decided to privatise airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati for operations, management and development throughthe public-private partnership (PPP) model. In February, Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) won the rights to run these six airports after competitive bidding.
"Our members, including officers, today held demonstration at Rajiv Gandhi Bhawan (which houses AAI headquarters along with the civil aviation ministry) and at various other AAI-run airports in the country to register our protest against handing over of six airports to Adani Group and its plans to privatise many more," the Forum official told PTI. The demonstration, however, could not be held at AAI- run airports in Maharashtra due to a public holiday in the state, he said.
The AAI manages around 120 airports in the country with a workforce of around 17,000. The AAI unions/associations recently formed the Forum to "protect and safeguard the AAI and interests of its employees beside explaining the impact of the privatisation".
It comprises Airports Authority employees union, Airports Authority Officers Association and Indian Airports Kamgar Union. The forum official also said the protest will continue till Sept 6 with all employees and officers wearing black badges, adding, "another lunch-hour demonstration will be held on Friday." The Forum will chalk out its further plan of action against privatisation of AAI-run airports on Sept 6.
On August 23, the Forum, in a letter to AAI chairman Anuj Agarwal, sought a meeting to discuss the concerns in details over the handing over of six airports to the Gujarat- based conglomerate. The AAI had in July issued letters of award for handing over Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangaluru airports to AEL after the Cabinet nod.
Besides these six airports, the government plans to exit from another 20-25 more airports in the next phase of privatisation. The forum has termed the government's move as "arbitrary and unilateral" and done in a "hasty" manner..
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