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Wed, Jan 08, 2003

India Seeks Help Running Airports

Non-Metro Sites Face Shortage of Expertise; G'v't Looking for Consultant

It's becoming a crisis in India; it's so bad, in fact, that the government is asking the private sector for help: non-metropolitan airports just don't attract the kinds of government workers to management, that the government thinks it needs.

The Airports Authority of India is currently working on a list of airports where government salaries aren't enticing enough, so that private managers may be recruited. Some aren't so "remote," either, like the resort portals at Kochi and Gaya.

Part of the problem is airport revenue-generation. Indian airports rely almost entirely on fees levied on aviation, directly; additional revenue streams are either prohibited, or ignored -- or unpopular.

It has been noted that even large hubs like Delhi get just over 20% of their revenues directly from the aircraft activities; worldwide, that figure approximates 70%.

Sure, parking generates some cash; the cafeteria is a small source; and there are even a handful of shops in the biggest airports -- but commercial development must come, as air travelers need the facilities, but cannot continue to face ever-higher direct ticket costs.

In the smaller airports, where the Airports Authority is against the wall for funding, it's likely a consulting study now up for bid may result in the most-rapid and most-radical changes. Remodeling the facilities will be the easy part; convincing travelers to do their shopping at the airport mall may be a culture-change challenge.



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