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Tiruchy airport staff fret over privatisation plans

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WITH the Centre moving ahead with privatisation of six profitable airports in the country, there are concerns for the future of the likes of Tiruchy International Air-port (Tu). The government's privati-sation plan triggered nation-wide outrage among Airports Authority of India (AM) em-ployees against the government. On Monday, AM employees of Tiruchy airport sat on a three-day relay hunger strike in front of the airport director's office. The protest in Tiruchy was attended by more than 30 employees but did not affect air-port operations. "We took the necessary steps to avoid any inconvenience to airport operations.

But if the government goes ahead with the privatisation plans, more employees will join the pro-test," said D Yuvarahesh, secretary, Airport Authority Employee's Union (AAEU), Tiruchy. Currently, the government is going to privatise Thiruvananthapuram, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Guwahati airports. It is unclear to AM employees why the aviation watchdog is going to hand over successful airports to private players. The uncertainty about a similar decision being put into motion for other airports has led to several concerns about TIA, too. AAI has already invested over Rs 500 crore for the infra-structural development of TIA. So, any privatisation of the airport in the future would be a huge blow to the government. But with the government already privatising its best assets, there are no guarantees for the future of TIA, protesting employees fear. "We are continuously re-porting a profit for the last five years. So, if even profitable airports are going to be privatised, TIA would face a similar situation," said an air-port employee.

With employees locking horns with the government, a hands-off approach by the Centre to their demands can lead to more trouble in the
coming days. For instance, airport employees have already decided go on mass casual leave from December 28. Sources confirmed several employees from Tamil Nadu will also take leave. With tourist hubs like Tiruchy expecting high footfalls during Christmas and New Year, a manpower crisis in airports can create challenges for smooth operations. "If AM employees go on mass leave, it will jeopardise operations. Airports like Tiruchy witness high footfalls during the last week of December. Several international tourists visit the city to celebrate the New Year. If the mass leave affects airport operations, tourism will also be affected," airport sources said.
source: epaper. new indianexpress . com/c/34773223

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