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Adani group forays into airport sector; wins bid to operate 5 airports

New Delhi: Making a large foray into the airport sector, Gautam Adani-led Adani Enterprises has won five out of six airports. Sources aware of the development said that Adanis were the highest bidder for Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangalore, Trivandrum and Lucknow Airport.

The government had put the airports on sale and invited bids from private players to operate them for 50 years


That Adanis were very eager for the airports is visible from their aggressive bidding. For instance, for Ahmedabad airport, Adani outbid the GMR group by quoting Rs 177 per passenger against GMR’s Rs 85. For Lucknow airport Adani bid Rs 171per passenger beating AMP capital’s quote of Rs 139. The bids were based on the highest monthly fee per passenger.

“Adani group is the highest bidder for five airports. Since financial criteria was 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,” said a senior AAI official. It’s very likely that the group will win the Guwahati airport as competition is weak for the project. The bid will for Guwahati airport will be opened tomorrow.

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.

“Hitherto Airports sector in India was predominantly dominated by 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, “ said Jagannarayan Padmanabhan, Director and Practice lead- Transport and Logistics at CRISIL.

Till now, the group which has a large presence in infrastructure had a miniscule 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.

However, analysts say the group’s interest in airport sector was inevitable considering the growth of civil aviation sector in the country. An analyst of a brokerage firm tracking the company said that that a closer look at the choice of business that the group has entered will show they are also sectors in which the government has put a significant policy thrust. “They have been very ambitious and aggressive in their expansions and in choosing segments which have demand but need a large capital expenditure and good execution skills, which the group has built on. Airports are again a long term business, which needs huge capital expenditure, and once again government is the main customer, so it fits in their strategy,” the analyst said.

Between financial year 2014 and financial year 2018, the group made an entry into four new business segments- wind energy, solar manufacturing, power distribution, and aerospace and defence.