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AAI workers suspend agitation

AAI employees suspends agitation after AAI assured that bids would not be opened without taking them into confidence.

india Updated: Jan 27, 2006 19:26 IST

The employees of Airports Authority of India on Friday suspended their agitation to protest the proposed privatisation of Delhi and Mumbai airports after the AAI management assured them that financial bids of private parties would not be opened without taking them into confidence.

The assurance was given to the agitating staffers by AAI Chairman K Ramalingam and AAI Board Member VDV Prasad Rao, who also said the bids would not be opened before Sunday.

Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has been maintaining that the private parties would be selected for the two airports by January 31.

The AAI Employees Joint Forum have threatened to go on a flash strike that could disrupt air services.

The workers, led by CPI(M) MP Dipankar Mukherjee, CITU President MK Pandhe and AAI Employees Joint Forum Convenor MK Ghoshal, blocked the gates of the Civil Aviation Ministry headquarters at Rajiv Gandhi Bhavan here for several hours demanding that modernisation work of these two profit-making airports should be given to AAI and not to private parties.

Ramalingam, who was in touch with Civil Aviation Secretary Ajay Prasad, said the Ministry had also assured that the 'Alternative Plan' for modernisation of the two metro airports submitted by the employees for would be considered.

Pandhe said "if the government goes back on its word and moves ahead with the privatisation process, the employees will again start a nationwide agitation."

Meanwhile, union leaders said AAI workers organised demonstrations in different parts of the country on Friday.

On January 24, warning of the 'flash strike', Ghoshal had said "while we do not want air travellers to suffer, we are being forced to take such a stand as the government seems to be going ahead with giving away two most-profitable airports to private parties when AAI has the capability and capacity to do so".

He said all AAI employees and officers had been asked to stop work within a short notice of two hours, which would lead to disruption of air services.

The leaders had also said any move to give away the two airports to private parties would be "illegal", adding that one of the shortlisted bidder's profits and reserves stood at "merely Rs 20 crore and Rs 67 crore respectively, compared with Rs 360 crore and Rs 3,000 crore of the AAI".

First Published: Jan 27, 2006 15:42 IST