The Centre today introduced the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha which proposes to amend the definition of 'major airport' to include the tariff aspect for other groups of airports.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on March 24 introduced the bill aiming to enable the development of both smaller and larger airports in public-private partnership mode.
The tariff aspect is expected to encourage the development of smaller airports and bring them under the purview of the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority.
The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India has been determining the tariffs of aeronautical charges at major airports in the country and is expected to now do so for smaller airports as well.
In the latest amendment, the government has decided to club or pair profitable and non-profitable airports, which could be offered in public-private partnership mode as a package to the prospective bidder.
Developing more number of airports through public-private partnership mode would expand air connectivity to relatively remote and far-flung areas.
Therefore, the government has decided to club or pair airports having profitable and non-profitable airports which could be offered in public-private partnership mode as a package to the prospective bidders.
The move to introduce the bill comes just a month after the government said it plans to privatize loss-making airports along with profitable ones in the next round of airport privatization.
In the upcoming round, the government expects to hand over the operations and management of the airports at Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur, and Tiruchirappalli to private operators under the public-private partnership mode.
In 2019, the government had amendment the definition of a 'major airport' to mean any airport with annual passenger throughput of over 3.5 mln.
However, the earlier amendment does not provide for the determination of tariffs for a group of airports, those airports that currently have low traffic potential or are loss-making are not expected to attract reasonable competitive bids.
The Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India Act, 2008, was aimed at enabling the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority to regulate tariffs and other charges for aeronautical services at airports and to monitor performance standards.