Government awards lease rights for Jaipur, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram airports to Adani Group

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led cabinet has approved the proposal for leasing out three airports, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram to Adani Enterprises. Gautam Adani-led private developer Adani group won the rights to operate, maintain and develop these airports in a public private partnership (PPP) mode for a period of 50 years, in a global competitive bidding conducted by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), last year.

The AAI will get an upfront amount of Rs 1,070 crore from handing over the airports to the private developer, said Union minister Prakash Javadekar.

“The upfront Rs 1,070 crore that will come to AAI will be used for developing airports in smaller airports. The other benefit is travellers will get better facilities,” the minister said while briefing media after the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday.

The leasing out of these airports was part of the original six that were awarded to the Adani Group. The Ahmadabad, Lucknow and Mangalur airports were awarded earlier to the conglomerate.

Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run six airports— Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati— after a competitive bidding process in February 2019. In February, 2020, the concessionaire agreement was signed by the group with the AAI for three airports— Ahmedabad, Mangaluru, and Lucknow. On July 3, the Union cabinet had approved the leasing out of Ahmedabad, Lucknow and Mangalore airports to Adani Group.

A decade ago, government had leased out the AAI’s airports at Delhi and Mumbai on public-private partnership for operation, management and development.

Officials claim that while these PPP experiments have helped create world class airports and assisted in delivery of efficient and quality services to the airport passengers, “it has also helped AAI in enhancing its revenues and focusing on developing airports and air navigation infrastructure in the rest of the country”.

As the AAI is a self-sustaining organisation, revenue received from PPP partners enabled AAI to create infrastructure facilities in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities and also to upgrade their airports to international standards. The PPP airports in India are consistently ranked among the top five in their respective categories by the Airports Council International (ACI) in terms of Airport Service Quality (ASQ).

AAI owns and manages more than 100 airports across the country, and Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri, in a recent webinar, made it clear that his ministry has got many more airports lined up, and 100 new airports will be built between now and 2030.

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