Adani Group Expands Reach: Seeks To Manage Three Airports In Sri Lanka After Success In Ports Sector

Amit Mishra

Feb 12, 2024, 12:13 PM | Updated 02:02 PM IST

Colombo Airport
Colombo Airport

Adani Group is in talks with Sri Lankan authorities to manage three airports in the island nation.

These airports include two in Colombo — namely, Bandaranaike International Airport and Ratmalana Airport — along with Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport located in Hambantota.

While Bandaranaike International Airport also known as Colombo Airport and colloquially known as Katunayake Airport, is the main international airport of Sri Lanka, the Mattala airport, 241km south-east of Colombo, has earned the moniker of the "world's emptiest airport" due to a lack of flights.

“There are plans to work with Adani Group for the management of airports,” Sri Lanka’s minister for tourism, land, sports, and youth affairs, Harin Fernando told businessline on the sidelines an industry event in Mumbai.

Amid a notable uptick in tourism, there's a plan to enlist a private partner for airport management. Foreign tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka soared twofold to 1.48 million in 2023 compared to the previous year, placing considerable pressure on the nation's airport infrastructure. The aspiration is that partnering with a private entity will facilitate the expansion of facilities and enhance the overall passenger experience.

Although there hasn't been any official confirmation from the Adani Group, discussions are underway between the two parties regarding potential arrangements, which may include management contracts.

The Adani Group has firmly established itself as a significant player in India's burgeoning aviation sector. Through its subsidiary, Adani Airport Holdings Limited (AAHL), the group currently oversees operations at seven airports across the country, including Mumbai, Jaipur, Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati, Lucknow, and Mangaluru airports, in addition to Ahmedabad.

Additionally, the AAHL is developing the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) in Mumbai. Should the agreement with Sri Lanka come to fruition, it could be Adani Group’s first overseas aviation foray.

The ports-to-power conglomerate is already a major port in Sri Lanka's port sector. The Adani Ports and Special Economic Zone (APSEZ) has a majority stake of 51 per cent in the West Container Terminal project in Colombo.

In November 2023, the US International Development Finance Corporation announced a $553 million (Rs 4,118.89 crore) loan to Colombo West International Terminal Private Limited (CWIT) — a consortium of three parties led by Adani Ports — which is developing the West Container Terminal project.

When commissioned, CWIT will be the largest and deepest container terminal in Sri Lanka and will be able to handle ultra-large container vessels with capacities of 24,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs).

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