Government defers action on new airports ground-handling policy

December 31st, 2008 - 10:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 31 (IANS) The government has postponed by at least six months the implementation of the new ground-handling policy at airports, expected to come into force Thursday, an official said Wednesday. “The implementation of the new ground-handling policy has been deferred by six months or until further order,” said a spokesperson of the civil aviation ministry.

Earlier, the aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation, stating security reasons, asked all airlines to outsource ground-handling activities from Jan 1, 2009, to an agency chosen by the airport operator.

Employees’ unions representing over 30,000 workers of National Aviation Co. Ltd (Nacil), which runs Air India, have threatened to go on strike to oppose the government’s decision to set up a ground-handling services joint venture with Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats).

The 50-50 joint venture was expected to come into force from Jan 1, 2009.

According to a senior official at the Airports Authority of India (AAI), over 50,000 people employed with foreign airlines at Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Banaglore and Hyderabad airports are at the risk of losing their jobs. Other airlines too have alerted their Indian employees about the possibility of job losses.

The government was under pressure to defer its decision following employees’ protest.

Aviation Minister Praful Patel has also written to airport operators across the country to avail the services of the existing employees engaged in ground-handling at airports.

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