On February 1st, 2006 the Indian Government approved the privatization plans for the Delhi and Mumbai airports after years of lip service by numerous governments in power. GMR Industries and Frankfurt airport operator Fraport will modernise Delhi airport while the GVK group and its South African partner has won Mumbai. They will be offered 74% stakes in the airports while the state-controlled Airports Authority of India will retain a 26% stake. The plan is bitterly opposed by trade unions and the government’s communist allies.
The Indian airports are in a critical state with poor infrastructure that is unable to cope with the projected growth. No Indian airports have more than a single runaway and are unable to handle the new generation of civilian aircrafts such as the wide-bodied A380. Ground facilities are insufficient to process the current passenger volume. Air Traffic Control is unable to cope with the traffic and delays are common place. To make things worse India is facing its first shortage of pilots or traffic controllers.
To harness how important the privatization of Indian airports was, a Rediff article, “Indian airports grounded by poor infrastructure” carries some astounding numbers. Here is a synopsis:
Human traffic that passed through the Indian Airports:
2004-2005 @ 60 million (a growth of 21% over 2003-04)
Number of Airlines operating Daily:
New Aircraft orders in 2005:
In addition, half-a-dozen airline IPOs are in the pipeline for 2006-07 and Indian and Air India could finally see disinvestment as well.