Two dozen more airports may be privatised
The Central government is all set to start the third round of privatization of airports and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) will, within the next week, come out with a list of around two dozen airports that can be privatized, a top AAI official said.
AAI has appointed two consultants who will identify the airports that could best attract private investment.
Referring to the second round of airport privatization, AAI chairperson Guruprasad Mohapatra said:
“When Delhi and Mumbai (airports) were privatised, it almost took three years but here the decision was taken in December and by February the cabinet note was ready. We have already issued letters to (developers of) three of the six airports that were privatized last year.”
In November 2018, the cabinet approved the privatization of six operational airports. With elections being declared in March, the privatization process could not be cleared by the cabinet, but soon after coming to the power, the Narendra Modi government approved the privatization of Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangalore airports. The Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram airports are expected to get the nod for privatization soon.
“As part 100-days agenda of the government, several more airports are on the list. What we have done is appointed consultants to understand the attractiveness of various airports in terms of private investment. In the next round of privatization, we are hoping for participation by foreign airports. We are still working on the number and names,” Mohapatra added.
The airports that could be privatized next are Kolkata, Chennai, Vijaywada and Tirupati; the government is looking at airports with a minimum capacity of 1.5 million passengers (handled) every year.
According to The International Air Transport Association (IATA), India’s domestic aviation market posted the fastest full-year domestic growth rate for the fourth consecutive year in 2018.
“Another important question is what will happen to AAI, since most of the airports will be privatized. Whatever money we will get from privatization, we will put in regional connectivity. We have asked the consultant to redesign our role since we will be privatizing most of our profit earning airports and we have great expertise in airport planning and infrastructure,” Mohapatra added.