Airport privatisation and branding

Kamal Baruah
Contd from last Saturday
The significance of the amendment is that it will help in expanding the air connectivity to relatively remote areas and as a result, expediting the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) regional connectivity scheme. It will also encourage development of smaller airports. But there is a concern about the lack of clarity in the Bill on the criterion for deciding which airports will be clubbed together to qualify under ‘a group of airports’ definition, whether it will be the passenger traffic of more than 3.5 million or some other factors too.
India’s largest infrastructure airport operator AAHL (Adani Airports Holding Limited) under the group’s flagship company Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEK), Adani Airports won the mandate to modernize and operate airports–Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram – through the Airports Authority of India’s globally competitive tendering process. But there is a hue and cry over trying to change the name of the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport of Mumbai and Guwahati airport recently. But a company, which has been given the job to run the airport, just can’t change the name of any airport. People in social media have started criticizing the Adani Group but the clarification is that it could be merely made by replacing the previous branding. AAHL must adhere to all the norms and guidelines of AAI in the interest of the aviation community at large.
They got license to run the management of the airports but have no right to interfere with the name of the airport. The name of the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport, the name after the saviour of the North East from its merger with the then East Pakistan during the partition of India, should not be changed by AAHL, although it is leased for development to Adani groups for a period of 50 years.
Ironically, the media is misleading the masses. The marketing concept of ‘branding’ is always there for any corporate funding as a brand is a name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers besides they work for profit. The larger objective is to reinvent airports as ecosystems that drive local economic development and aviation-linked businesses.