India takes first steps in Lucknow, Chennai airports privatisation

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The Indian government has taken the first step toward privatising the operations of Lucknow and Chennai airports.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has released requests for qualifications (RFQ) for firms and consortia to operate the two airports, on an operate, manage and transfer basis.

In the tender documents, AAI has indicated that at Lucknow the chosen operator will have to undertake a number of other construction projects, including resurfacing the runway, construction of a permanent cargo facility and a new perimeter road, at an indicative cost of an indicative cost of Indian rupees (Rs) 5 billion ($75.5 million).

At Chennai, the successful bidder is expected to undertake construction of a new domestic terminal, construct a new taxiway adjacent to the main runway, and upgrade the international terminal, among other projects. The projected cost for the work is Rs12 billion.

For both airports, it notes that the indicative capital cost of those projects will be revised and specified at the bid stage.

AAI recently completed new terminals and other aeronautical infrastructure at the two airports at a combined cost of Rs22 billion.

Applications for firms to qualify for Lucknow airport bidding are due by 18 October, with qualified bidders to submit their bids by 20 December. Responses for the Chennai RFQ are due by 17 October, with qualified bids to be submitted by 18 December.

A report released by the Indian government last year also recommended that AAI should look to implement a public-private partnership (PPP) model for the operation of Kolkata airport, and it is understood that another RFQ will be issued soon.

The same report also suggested that proposed greenfields airports at Navi Mumbai, Goa and Agra could also be developed through a PPP model.

Chennai airport is the home base for SpiceJet and will also be the headquarters for India AirAsia.

Flightglobal's FlightMaps Analytics shows that Lucknow has flights to six other Indian cities and to five cities in the Middle East. In terms of seat capacity, IndiGo is the largest carrier there.