Adani Group plans to bid for airport privatisation

May 21,2024

Five years after winning the bid to operate six international airports and becoming the largest private airport operator in the country, the diversified Adani Group is looking to further expand its presence in the airport business.

Adani Airport Holdings (AAHL) is keen to add more airports to its portfolio by participating in government tenders inviting bids for the privatisation of at least 25 airports. An Adani Enterprises presentation stated that 30-35 airports held by the state-owned Airports Authority of India (AAI) are planned for privatisation by 2025.

AAHL currently runs airports in Trivandrum, Mangaluru, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow and Guwahati, which it bagged in early 2019. Its biggest asset, however, is the Mumbai airport, which it took over from the GVK group in 2021. With all AAHL airports combined, the Adani Group controls 23% of India’s total passenger traffic.

The group is now planning to become a network player, which will allow it to offer seamless connectivity between airports for better route planning.

Saurabh Shah, deputy chief financial officer of Adani Enterprises (AEL), said, “We will surely look at the airports which come up for privatization, and this should happen post-elections. We will 100% bid for projects in airports which are in our core strength of the network that we want to develop.”

With the near saturation of the Mumbai airport, AAHL said it will open the Navi Mumbai airport for operations in the March quarter of FY25. This greenfield airport is part of the company’s network planning and is aimed at reducing the load on the Mumbai airport. The network planning is not just aimed at passenger traffic but also at the burgeoning cargo traffic.

“We want to ensure that we are there as a network player, which gives us a very big strength in terms of route planning, in terms of the strategy development and what we want to do,” Shah said in the post earning call.

The bundling of smaller airports with major airports offers an attractive package for potential bidders, AEL said in the presentation.

Some of the major airports that will be privatised include Chennai, Bhubaneshwar, Amritsar, and Varanasi, alongside smaller airports like Gaya, Dharamsala, and Jharsuguda.

Adani’s airports business saw its revenue grow by 35% year-on-year (y-o-y) to Rs 8,062 crore, while Ebitda grew by 45% y-o-y to Rs 2,437 crore during FY24. During the March quarter of FY24, 10 new routes, seven new airlines, and 18 new flights were added across all seven operational airports of AAHL. Passenger movement at its airports increased by 19% y-o-y to 88.6 million during the same quarter.

Currently, revenues from aero operations are a major source of income for AAHL. The company intends to shift this to non-aero operations in the coming years. Except for Mumbai, about 75% of its revenues come from aero operations and 25% from non-aero operations. Mumbai airport fares better at about 50% each.

“We are constantly trying to move that ratio towards 75% non-aero and 25% aero, like it is at the international level. So that’s how we are also poised to grow this business. In the next 2 to 3 years, you will see a very big change in terms of the ratio from aero to non-aero,” Shah added.