Cruising Heights
Will Our Airports Be Secure Image Credit: Cruising Heights
Will Our Airports Be Secure Image Credit: Cruising Heights

Will Our Airports Be Secure?

The recent bombings in Colombo, Sri Lanka, has raised the question of security. It is in such a situation that the recent Airports Authority of India (AAI) tender for Ground Handling assumes importance. While a senior official has been caught by the Central Bureau of Investigation for allegedly demanding a bribe from a ground handling company, many questions still remain unanswered. TIRTHANKAR GHOSH asks why to simply accommodate a handful of favoured few participants, officials, for reasons best known to them, went out of their way to welcome entities with questionable security clearances in the most security-sensitive zones in our country: Airports.

Tirthankar Ghosh

The Ground Handling tender for 34-odd Airports Authority of India (AAI)-controlled airports continues to throw up skeletons. Cruising Heights’ stories on the tender (in the February 2019 and March 2019 issues) outlined how propriety and rules were thrown to the winds to accommodate the ineligible. Repeated queries sent out to R.S Bhati, Airports Authority of India’s Chief Vigilance Officer by this correspondent — the last one was sent out on April 8, 2019 — has yielded no replies except the usual from Suresh N Borkar, General Manager-Vigilance – the reply came on April 10, 2019 — “Your email is acknowledged. The issues raised in the email are being looked into and findings will be conveyed to the competent authority for appropriate action.”

It is surprising, indeed, why the tender was not carried out seriously. AAI, more than any other government organization, is aware of security. In today’s scenario, it is not something to be played around with. In such an environment, it may be mentioned that ground handling agencies invest huge sums of money to keep our airplanes in the air. Rough estimates point out that a Ground Handler spends around US$ six million for a set of equipment meant for a single-aisle aircraft. For a widebody, the figure is US$ eight million in case the equipment is of International standard. Mind you, that is for a single aircraft. If the handler functions at a metro airport, at least six sets o


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