The biggest global infrastructure players Adani Group has emerged the highest bidders for managing, operating as well as developing the facilities of five airports in the country.
The government had put the airports on sale and invited bids from private players to operate them for 50 years.
The Adani group has pipped GMR Group, the leading airport developer and operator, to emerge the winner for becoming the concessionaire of the Airports Authority of India (AAI) managed airports in the country- Thiruvananthapuram, Mangaluru, Ahmedabad, Jaipur and Lucknow when the financial bids were opened in New Delhi on Monday.
According to the source, the decision on the Guwahati airport is on hold following a stay order from a court. Bids were invited for the six projects on the basis of per-passenger fee in December.
According to the senior official of AAI “Adani Group is the highest bidder for five airports. Since financial criteria were the only eligibility, the group will be awarded the airports as soon as formalities are cleared. After the award of bids, Adanis can take control of the airport.”
Experts say that the entry of a conglomerate like Adani into the airport sector will mark a new era of competition into the sector which till now has been dominated by two companies GMR and GVK group. To break the duopoly, the government had allowed companies without any prior experience to bid for the projects.
Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Director and Practice lead- Transport and Logistics at CRISIL said that Airports sector in India was predominantly dominated by a couple of players, an entry of a private player with deep pockets to manage these operational assets augurs well for the sector and in the days ahead we should see good competition amongst the players.
Till now, the group which has a large presence in infrastructure had a minuscule presence in aviation. While it has an Air Operators Permit in the name of Karnavati Aviation and owns an airstrip in Mundra (Gujarat), primarily those have been utilised for its internal logistical need.