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India plans new push at airport sell-off
[NEW DELHI] India's new government has rekindled plans to privatise four airports and will also list the state-owned airport operator on the stock market, the civil aviation ministry said on Monday.
The announcements form part of a draft set of reforms which the ministry hopes will aid growth in the aviation sector.
Millions more Indians are flying each year in one of the world's fastest growing aviation markets, but the government wants to speed up the process by expanding airports and boosting air connectivity in remote areas.
The ministry said airports in the cities of Chennai, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Jaipur will be developed under a public-private partnership (PPP) model, without setting a timeline for when they will tender out contracts to the private sector.
Four Indian airports - Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore - have already been privatised. "Government's objective is to develop more airports in the PPP mode, with appropriate modifications to ensure competitiveness in costs," the ministry said.
India's previous government, which lost power in May, sought bidders in 2013 for the privatisation of six airports, but disagreement among government officials over the terms of a PPP deal, opposition and missed deadlines scuppered the plans.
The ministry said it will list the Airports Authority of India, which operates 46 domestic and 15 international airports, to improve efficiency and transparency, and sell shares in state-owned helicopter company Pawan Hans.
The ministry is also "reviewing" guidelines which restrict airlines from flying international routes in order to encourage the entrance of more carriers, and will take steps to "rationalize" aviation taxes, which have made aviation turbine fuel up to 45 per cent more expensive than internationally.
The government has no immediate plan to sell off loss-making national carrier Air India, local media also reported on Monday.