Cornered by court, politics, GMR says will hand over airport ops at midnight to Maldives
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In 2010, GMR-led consortium won the right to build and operate the Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) for 25 years, which is extendable by another 10 years.
The deal was signed during the regime of previous government headed by Mohamed Nasheed.
But after the regime change in February, GMR had been facing an uphill task.
The current government in Male headed by President Mohamed Waheed says the contract was signed under "dubious" conditions and was "void", a charge hotly denied by the Indian firm.
A number of anti-GMR rallies were organised in Male by certain right-wing coalition partners of the current regime.
Anti-Indian statements also seeped into the protests that were held in the Indian ocean archipelago.
The Male airport venture has been the most profitable for GMR in terms of its airports business segment. The company has so far invested about USD 250 million on managing and upgrading the facilities at the Male airport.
The bone of contention between GMR and Maldivian government is levy of an Airport Development Charge (ADC) of USD 25 per passenger and USD 2 per passenger insurance surcharge. The levy was supposed to be charged from January 1 this year but a local civil court had struck down the proposal in December last year.
After that, the then government headed by Nasheed agreed to compensate GMR against the levy. However, the decision was reversed by the new regime early this year, leading to GMR filing for arbitration in a Singapore court.
GMR claims that it has dues of over USD 3 million on the Maldivian government.
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