Global integrated infrastructure player Adani Group has emerged as the highest bidder for managing, operating as well as developing the facilities of five airports in the country.
The 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, AAI sources told The Hindu .
The decision on the Guwahati airport is on hold following a stay order from a court, according to a source. Bids were invited for the six projects on the basis of per-passenger fee in December.
As many as 32 technical bids were received from 10 companies.
In the Passenger fee component to be given to the AAI, the Adani Enterprises that bid for the Adani Group has quoted ₹168 per person for the Thiruvananthapuram international airport, ₹115 for Mangalaru, ₹174 for Jaipur, ₹171 for Lucknow and ₹177 for the Ahmedabad airport. Thus, the group has emerged the highest bidder. The Ahmedabad-based Adani Group is foraying into the aviation sector in the country for the first time.
Reluctant entry in Kerala
The group is behind the upcoming Vizhinjam International Deepwater seaport project near the State capital. The State government that bid for the Thiruvananthapuram international airport to stave off the privatisation of the airport through the Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) also lost in the race as it quoted only ₹135.
For the Mangaluru international airport, the Cochin International Airport Ltd (CIAL), operator of the Cochin international airport, unsuccessfully bid as it quoted only ₹45. The AAI sources said chances of the Kerala government to retain the airport in the public sector by floating a company on the lines of CIAL failed as the bid did not come within 10% of the price quoted by the Adani Group.
The Kerala government initially told the Centre of its desire to take over and run the airport on nomination basis. Rejecting this, the Centre gave the nod to the State to utilise the Right of first refusal (RoFR) granted to state-owned agencies in government tenders, which allows them to match and take over the airport if its bid came within 10 per cent of the price quoted by the highest bidder.
Besides, GMR Group and Adani Group, National Investment and Infrastructure Fund (NIIF), Fairfax India Holdings, Australia’s AMP Group and PNC Infratech Ltd were in the race.
The bidders were shortlisted based on the Technical Capacity and Financial Capacity. The Letter of Award (LOA) will be issued by the AAI on February 28 to the selected concessionaire, who will be responsible for the operations and management of the airport assets as well as for further development of the facilities.
In November last, the government cleared a proposal for managing the six AAI-run airports on public-private partnership (PPP) basis.