Calcutta on Tata-airport icon radar - Joint venture with Singapore firm to bid for modernisation work

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  • Published 21.02.07

New Delhi, Feb. 21: The Tatas and Changi Airport’s investment arm have tied up to bid for possible modernisation work at Calcutta and Chennai airports as well as management of some 35 smaller airports.

“We are partnering the Tatas to get possible contracts for modernisation work in Calcutta and Chennai airports,” Changi’s India vice-president Ng Tim Peng said here.

The Calcutta airport is rated the fifth busiest in the country, handling some 4.4 million passengers a year, while Chennai is ahead at the third position with 6.77 million passengers.

Singapore’s Changi, one of the best-run airports in the world, had bid as a partner to the Bharti group to modernise the New Delhi airport. But it had pulled out later, citing inability to meet project deadlines and guarantees. Changi already has airport management projects in China, Russia and West Asia.

While it has been decided that the development of the Chennai airport will be handed over to a private consortium with management rights, the Bengal government had asked the Centre to modernise Dum Dum airport using the services of the state-run Airports Authority of India (AAI).

The authority has already started initial work on modernising Calcutta airport, based on a plan drawn up by Aeroport de Paris. However, the government may still decide on farming out part of the job to private companies that can work as sub-contractors.

Civil aviation secretary Ashok Chawla said the Bengal government has made it clear that the Calcutta airport would be modernised by the AAI.

Civil aviation sources added that it is unlikely that management rights to the Calcutta airport would be transferred to private corporations, given the objections the Left has to such a move.

The Tatas will hold a 51 per cent stake in the joint venture formed with Changi’s investment arm, CAI. Peng said Changi was open to joining hands with more partners.

The new terminals to come up in Calcutta and Chennai will be “intelligent” — they would be IT-enabled and many facilities such as lighting and air-conditioning would be controlled by sensors.

“We are awaiting a report from the Tamil Nadu government on land acquisition. We are likely to get the report in the next two to three weeks. As soon as we get the report, we will move the cabinet on modernisation of Calcutta and Chennai airports,” Chawla said.