New Delhi– Global airlines body International Air Transport Association (IATA) has called for a stringent regulatory structure for privatised airports to protect the public interest.

“IATA does not support the privatisation of airports. Nor are we officially opposed to it. But looking at the experience of airport privatisation — in India and elsewhere — I am hard pressed to find an example where the results, overall, have been positive,” IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac, now on a visit to India, told reporters on Thursday evening.

“A private sector mindset can add value to airport projects with efficiency, cost effectiveness, entrepreneurial spirit, and so on. But we need a stronger regulatory framework than exists today to ensure that there is a balance struck between commercial and national interests.”

According to IATA, airlines operating in India have faced huge costs increases, in part due to the up to 46 per cent concession fee that the private airport operators have to pay to the government.

“There is no turning back the public-private partnership in Indian airports,” said de Juniac.

“But what can be done is to strengthen the regulatory structure for the airports already privatised in order to defend the public interest.”

IATA has also called for reduction in taxes.

“The GST (Goods and Services Tax) regime needs to adhere to international standards and principles,” said de Juniac.

“We have called for a zero-rating for international flights when the GST comes into effect next April. This seems unlikely. To limit its damage to the sector’s competitiveness, we would at least hope for an abatement in the rate.”