As the aviation sector recovers from COVID-led disruptions, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to tap the opportunity with a capital expenditure of ₹25,000 crore. On the anvil is the expansion and modification of existing airports, as well as the establishment of new airports, over the next five years.
The AAI, a Miniratna public sector enterprise that handles the country’s civil aviation infrastructure, is also implementing a major expansion project for three public-private partnership (PPP) airports — in Delhi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. This will come with a ₹30,000 crore bill and 2025 deadline.
These are among several measures that the Centre is taking up to revive the civil aviation sector that is recovering from the COVID pandemic, said VK Singh, MoS for Civil Aviation, in a written reply to a query in the Rajya Sabha.
Existing and greenfield airports
“The Airports Authority of India has taken up a development programme to spend around INR 25,000 crore in the next five years for expansion and modification of existing terminals, new terminals, expansion or strengthening of existing runways, aprons, Airport Navigation Services (ANS), control towers, technical blocks etc,” said a statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
As domestic aviation picks with low-cost flights to tier 2 and 3 cities, the Centre plans to develop greenfield airports under the PPP model at an investment of ₹36,000 crore. In August, it had cleared a proposal to set up 21 new airports.
The AAI owns nearly 125 airports across the country. It operates the international airports in Ahmedabad, Goa, Amritsar, Port Blair, Calicut, Srinagar, Chennai, Guwahati, Jaipur, Kolkata and Thiruvananthapuram. Some of the nation’s biggest airports, such as Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad, are run by private players such as GMR, GVK and Adani.
Outstanding payments from airlines
The Civil Aviation Ministry also informed the Rajya Sabha that domestic airlines owe the AAI up to around ₹2,702.5 crore in dues, as of September 2021. The highest amount is owed by Air India, at ₹2,350.6 crore. This is followed by SpiceJet, Alliance Air and Go Air, which owe the government body ₹185.5 crore, ₹109.8 crore and ₹56.53 crore, respectively.
Airlines are required to pay airport operators for services such as landing and parking. The AAI charges the airlines penal interest and implements encashment of security deposits. It also has resort to legal actions to recover the dues, said the Ministry.