The Govt. Of India is planning to privatize 6 to 10 state-run airports in the next round of privatisation, said Civil Aviation Secretary Pradeep Kharola on Thursday.
The divestment process of Air India is also on track, Kharola said. “The transaction adviser has received the expressions of interest from bidders. The transaction adviser will now seek financial bids from the qualified bidders,” he said.
He further informed that the third stage of the airport privatization process will be done Airports Authority of India (AAI) in April.
“AAI is examining giving non-profitable airport and profit making airports as a package. We could see six to 10 airports being taken up,” Pradeep Kharola, Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Thursday. The airports will be given to the private sector for a 50 years,” Kharola said.
He added that Budget 2021-22 had provided an increase of 35 per cent at Rs 600 crore for the regional connectivity scheme. In the previous Budget Rs 430 crore had been provided under this head but the number increased to RS 700 crore.
AAI is raising ₹2,100 crore from banks for its capital expenditure requirements in 2021-22, its acting chairman Anuj Agarwal said.
AAI has already recently approved Adani Group’s proposal to take over the Mumbai airport, Agarwal said.
The government has awarded the airports of Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Guwahati, Jaipur and Mangalore to Adani Group, under the first round of divestment process started in 2018.
Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman also said in her budget speech that the government will privatize airports operated by AAI from tier II and III cities during 2021-22.
Regarding fare bands for domestic air tickets, he said they will not be a permanent feature, adding that they could be eliminated once the number of flyers returns to pre-COVID levels.
When domestic flights resumed on May 25 after a two-month hiatus, the government introduced fare bands so that a passenger would not have to pay exorbitant fares.
The current fare band is in effect through March 31, and a call to expand the band is likely to be brought closer to the date, Kharola said.