Adani Group set to begin airport operations in 3 new cities, including Ahmedabad
After winning the bid to acquire the operations of the Mumbai airport in August this year, Adani Enterprises Limited (AEL) is currently preparing itself for a new set of airport takeovers in the coming days. The group would essentially, for a 50-year-lease, maintain the operations, management and development of the airports at Mangaluru, Lucknow and Ahmedabad from October 30, November 02 and November 11 respectively.
The decision has been made after the company was asked by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) to take over the three airports before November this year.
As announced in the company’s Annual Report of 2019-2020, Adani Group considers itself “well-positioned to become leading airport operator in India.” The report also announced that the group won the bids for operations in six airports at Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram, under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) model announced by the central government.
The company also said that they would operate under a hybrid business model that comprises two revenue structures - aero and non-aero revenues. The non-aero revenues would be aimed at tapping the potential of “non-passenger airport visitors.”
While there were plans to handle airports in the post-Covid-19 era in the report, the lockdown induced by the pandemic has widely hindered Adani’s plans for airport domination. The company announced in June this year that the acquisitions of operations in Guwahati and Jaipur airports were halted, as reported by Mint.
Another challenge that the company faced was a legal battle with the Kerala state government after the latter opposed the privatization of Thiruvananthapuram airport, calling it ‘not in public interest.’ However, the Kerala High Court on October 19 this year dismissed the contention of the state government, as reported by the Mint.
Members of the opposition have alleged favouritism on part of the central government for offering all airports to the Adani Group. “There’s a clear violation of norms in giving airports to a single private entity. Govt ignored the advice of some of its own ministries and departments. Changes in norms enabled Adani group to win all six bids,” Congress leader had said, according to news agency ANI.
Despite the challenges, Adani would proceed with the takeovers as announced earlier, a press release from the AAI mentioned.