Airport Privatisation Round 2: Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur And Trichy On The ListVaranasi Airport (Dennis Jarvis/Flickr)

The Union Cabinet meeting scheduled for today (19 August) is likely to take up a proposal for the next round of airport privatisation.

Union Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on 18 August informed that his ministry will place a proposal for ‘further’ privatisation of airports before the Cabinet on August 19.

In the first round of privatisation initiated by Narendra Modi government, the airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati were cleared for operation, management and development through public-private partnership (PPP) model in February 2019.

In September 2019, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had recommended the Civil Aviation Ministry to privatise airports in Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur and Trichy.

Puri said during a webinar on Tuesday: “We are going to the Cabinet tomorrow for further airport privatisation. We have got many more airports lined up, dozens of them, and the 100 new airports we will build between now and 2030.”

The AAI, which works under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, currently owns and manages more than 100 airports across the country.

In 2018, the government decided to privatise the airports in Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati.

Adani Enterprises had won the rights to run these six airports after a competitive bidding process in February 2019.

Adani Enterprises has already signed the concessionaire agreement with the AAI for three airports — Ahmedabad, Mangaluru and Lucknow — on 14 February. The Group has not taken over the remaining three airports at Jaipur, Trivandrum, and Mangalore since they are already stuck in litigation.

Given how the aviation sector has been hit hard due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Adani Group in July invoked force majeure clause to inform the Airports Authority of India (AAI) that it cannot take over three (Lucknow, Manglore, and Ahmedabad) of the six airports it had won in the bids in February 2019. Adani Enterprises had sought time to pay an upfront fee of Rs 1,000 crore for the three airports.

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