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Govt to auction 6 more airports, open up airspace for commercial use

New Delhi: The government will soon start auctioning of six more airports under public private partnership (PPP) and additional investment by private players in total of 12 airports will be around Rs 13,000 crore, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Saturday.

FM Nirmala Sitharaman during a press conference in New Delhi on Saturday.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) has already awarded three out of the six aerodromes that were bid out for operation and maintenance under public private partnership (PPP).

The announcement about airports was made as part of the fourth tranche of stimulus measures to bolster the country’s economy that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdown.

Sitharaman said annual revenue of the six airports would be around Rs 1,000 crore while the current profit is about Rs 540 crore per year. Besides, AAI would get a down payment of Rs 2,300 crore.

Six more airports have been identified for bidding out and the bid process would commence immediately. These airports are those at Amritsar, Varanasi, Bhubaneswar, Indore, Raipur and Trichy, according to an official.

Additional investments by private players in 12 airports in the first and second rounds are expected to be around Rs 13,000 crore, Sitharaman said.

Last year, the government bid out six airports — Lucknow, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Guwahati — for operation, management and development through PPP model.

Another six airports will be put out for the third round of bidding, Sitharaman added. State-owned AAI manages more than 135 airports and nearly 110 of them are operational.

Besides, the restriction on utilisation of Indian airspace will be eased so that flying becomes more efficient. Only 60 per cent of the airspace is currently freely available.

“The optimal utilisation of airspace, prediction in fuel use and time will have a positive environmental impact,” said Sitharaman. “It will bring a benefit of about Rs 1,000 crore per year for the aviation sector.”

The Finance Minister said the tax structure is being altered to make the country a hub for aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

This will encourage global engine manufacturers to set up engine repair facilities in the country. Maintenance costs will come down and there will be convergence between defence sector and civil aviation.

Inputs with PTI and ANI

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