While the government plans to privatise the top 25 state-owned airports in the country, the airport operator, Airports Authority of India (AAI), is scouting new places to deploy its workforce trained in airport operations and secure a steady revenue stream. Currently, AAI is eyeing airport management services to add to its list of service offerings. This would include managing airport operations for the airside and the terminal, air traffic and navigation, and other services like food and beverage outlets and parking.
AAI has signed an operation and management contract with the state government of Uttar Pradesh to manage five state-owned airports, viz. Azamgarh, Aligarh, Muirpur, Chitrakoot, and Shravasti for 30 years. The organisation has also signed similar contracts with the Steel Authority of India (SAIL) to operate the SAIL-owned airports at Rourkela (Odisha), Burnpur (West Bengal), and Bokaro (Jharkhand). These airports operate non-scheduled flights for VIP movement or SAIL aircraft.
AAI is encouraging associations with PSU conglomerates and corporate houses, owning multiple airport strips, to provide the expertise and resources for operations management. It is having similar discussions with the Karnataka government for the new terminal at Shivamogga airport.
Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad were privatised earlier. The government transferred the lease of six more airports (Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Jaipur, Mangaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, and Guwahati) to the Adani Group last year. 25 more AAI-owned airports have been identified for privatisation under the National Monetisation Pipeline by 2025. After the privatisation, AAI employees can choose to be absorbed by the new company. The concession agreement signed with Adani Group states that the employees up to the position of Assistant General Manager can continue to be posted at the respective airport for three years. Then they will have the option to quit AAI to join the Adani Group or stay. However, most employees stay with AAI as it becomes challenging for the organisation to redeploy them.