AAI due Rs 2457 crores

By bappaditya paul

The Airports Authority of India, which manages and operates majority of the airports in the country,  is to get nearly Rs 2,457 crore from various quarters, including airlines and government organisations.

The revelation co0mes when, unable to fund the modernisation of airports in the country, the Centre is looking for private investments. The UPA-II government last week announced a target of raising Rs 8,798 crore from private investors this fiscal year for the civil aviation sector.

According to Airports Authority of India (AAI) records, as on 31 March 2012, on top of its defaulter list is national carrier Air India, which alone owes a whopping Rs 1,077.08 crore.

The amount has accumulated over the years because Air India has failed to pay charges for landing and parking, rent for office space, Route Navigation Facility Charges, Terminal Navigational Landing Charges, and licence fees.

As regards the non-payment of dues, the private airlines too are in close competition.

Till 31 March this year, seven big private airlines in the country and their smaller counterparts have an outstanding of Rs 436.61 crore to the AAI. The Kingfisher Airlines owned by the “King of Good Times” Vijay Mallya tops the list with a due of Rs 255.27 crore.

“While most of the private airlines clear some dues from time to time, Kingfisher Airlines has not paid us a single penny since January-February. The airline is now operating from a few select airports under a “cash and carry” system,” said a senior AAI official.

As against the Rs 436.61 crore due from private airlines of Indian origin, foreign airlines owe the AAI another Rs 204.68 crore. AAI officials maintain  they constantly keep on prodding the defaulters and though some amount is realised from time to time, non-payment of fresh charges keeps the situation from improving.

Likewise, government organisations/PSUs belonging to both the Centre and the states have an outstanding of Rs 294.97 crore. These include organisations such as the bureau of civil aviation safety, the Central public works department, customs, immigration and oil companies towards rent of establishment space.

There is also a due of Rs 3.99 crore from cargo, Rs 402.45 crore from concessionaries and  a due of Rs 38.12 crore  arising out of court/arbitration cases with private airlines.

With regard to the NSC Bose International Airport in Kolkata alone, the AAI is to get (till 31 March) Rs 61.61 crore from private airlines: Rs 60.66 crore from Air India and another Rs 98.39 lakh from foreign airlines.

Kingfisher Airlines, which has temporarily suspended operations from Kolkata has a due of about Rs 17.47 lakh.

(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 12 June 2012.)

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