Calicut airport planned for PPP mode in 2023

An outer view of the Calicut Airport. File.   | Photo Credit: MITHOSH JOSEPH

After successfully handing over the operation, management and development of the Thiruvananthapuram International Airport to Adani Enterprise Limited, the Ministry of Civil Aviation is planning to lease out Calicut International Airport, another airport managed by Airports Authority of India (AAI) in a phased manner.

Sources said that Calicut airport which was plagued by multiple issues including land acquisition would have to wait for the third phase of the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) mode till 2023. The next phase involves the leasing out of Trichy, Indore, Bhubaneswar, Varanasi, Amritsar and Raipur airports and clubbing each of these airports with nearby smaller airports.

The pairing of smaller or non-profitable airports with profitable airports, as a package to bidder was to ensure integrated development of smaller and non-profitable airports with profitable airports.

Previously Calicut airport, which is in Malappuram district, was on the list of five airports for expansion in the PPP mode. However it was left out in the second phase of leasing out. In fact, the new rules would be based on the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority of India (Amendment) Act passed in both houses of Parliament.

Adani Enterprise Limited had earlier emerged as the successful bidder for all the six airports - Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangalore, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram for privatisation for operations, management and development for a period of 50 years.

AAI sources said that Calicut airport had a commendable volume of passenger traffic but it had not mustered the leverage for commercial exploitation. Bidders usually look for creamy non-profitable traffic operations including maintenance and repair of flights and running hotels and malls.

Calicut is not lucrative in terms of commercial space exploration since the airport handled mainly blue collar workers as well as Haj and Umrah pilgrims. The profit- making was confined to the huge expatriate population in the Gulf countries. Even then, privatisation of the airport would attract foreign investment and spur development, sources said.

Calicut airport handled a total of 32,29,910 passengers including 27,00,556 international travellers during 2019-20 and 33,60, 847 passengers including 27, 48, 275 international passengers in 2018-19. The average 70 flights a day dipped owing to curtailed operations during the COVID-19 lockdown. The annual passenger traffic at Calicut would be stagnant at 35 lakh in future, sources said.

Unlike Kannur and Kochi airports, sources said that Calicut airport did not receive the required support from the State government. In the case of Thiruvananthapuram airport, Adani Group has high stakes as the State capital was a catchment area with businessmen, bureaucrats and politicians. Moreover, the group is developing the Vizhinjam International Transhipment Deepwater Multipurpose Seaport.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2021 9:16:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kozhikode/calicut-airport-planned-for-ppe-mode-in-2023/article37002183.ece

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