While Male international airport is transferred back by the GMR-led consortium to the Maldives Airports Company Ltd by Friday midnight, experts warn that the transition might not be without financial and operational pain for the Government of the island state.

The GMR-led consortium had won the bid to modernise the airport in June 2010.

“It will be financially painful for the Maldives Government, because apart from investing to complete the project, it will also have to pay compensation to the GMR Group. Operationalising means day-to-day managing, as the structure of the airport operations has changed completely,” Kapil Kaul, Chief Executive Officer, Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, said.

Officials of Airports Authority of India, who have worked on transition at various airports, warn that there could be other problems, including those connected with the IT system and operations of the airport. The safety of aircraft operations, however, is unlikely to be affected.

“The IT system is the backbone of any airport. And depending on the level of IT upgrade at Male, it could affect working of various operations like check-in to runway lighting,” sources said.

Meanwhile, a team of GMR Male International Airport Private Ltd (GMIAL) is awaiting the arrival of officials of Maldives Airports Company Ltd to transfer Male international airport operations back to the Maldivian company.

This follows a Singapore court ruling on Thursday saying that the Maldives Government had the authority to take back the Male airport.

Sources in Male told the Business Line that some expat employees working with GMIAL currently may taken up the offer to work for Male International airport. GMIAL has close to 1,800 employees, of which about 100 are expats.

ashwini.phadnis@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on December 7, 2012)
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