CW reports on the expansion and modernisation projects of 25 airports proposed in the next five years.
With 2017 just around the corner, the airports sector is in takeoff mode. Under the ´Udan´ scheme devised by the government to increase connectivity, plans are on the anvil to build 200 new airports in Tier-I and Tier-II cities and renovate airstrips in disuse. This apart, the new green terminal that opened at Vadodara Airport to increase its passenger handling capacity is also making headlines (Read more on Page 82).
There´s more. After the deadlines for accepting RFQs was extended thrice for the Nagpur Airport, it is known that six private companies - Essel Infrastructure, IRB Mumbai, GVK, GMR, Tata Realty and PNC Infrastructure - have responded to the RFQ, making it the biggest-ever response to any airport privatisation bid. And, Bengaluru-based GMR Airports has signed a concession agreement with the Goa Government for the development and operations of North Goa´s greenfield international airport in Mopa.
Drivers of development
The present traffic growth in the aviation sector is indeed encouraging.
As S Sreekumar, General Manager-Planning, Airports Authority of India (AAI), says, ´In FY2015-16, total passenger movement through the civil aviation mode stood at 223.62 million, a growth of 17.6 per cent over the previous year. Of this, domestic passenger traffic growth is robust with 21.60 per cent. Growth is continuing and is indicated to be long term and sustainable. On the cargo front as well, there is visible growth of 7 per cent in 2015-16 compared to the previous year.´
Thus, the need for airports! And, the construction industry is gearing up. Having completed the development of about 20 airport runways, aviation is high on Agra-based PNC Infratech´s priority list after roads. Anil Kumar Rao, Whole-Time Director, PNC Infratech, says, ´There are two types of developments coming up in airport infrastructure: one is from the government´s side, such as airports planned by AAI, and then there is a lot of scope from the defence side.´
As AKS Chauhan, COO, GR Infraprojects, mentions, ´At present, there is a need for smaller airports. But these will be eventually converted into medium size, followed by large airports. This is because we don´t have the capacity to handle the air traffic in the present day. So, the government is framing its policies in the right direction. It is the industry that needs to step up in action.´
Opportunities and challenges
Contractors are certainly on the lookout for development and investment opportunities. PNC Infratech is eyeing several projects in terms of new airports as well as upgrades. Rao shares, ´Andhra Pradesh is coming up with an airport at Bhogapuram, which is a substitute for Visakhapatnam Airport. Apart from this, we are among the six developers to have submitted our qualification documents for the Nagpur Airport upgrade.´
He further shares that the company will be bidding for airport projects being announced as part of the Udan policy, and is also looking at opportunities in defence airports planned by the Indian Air Force.
GR Infraprojects too is involved in the bidding process for select airports. ´However,´ Chauhan adds, ´..the bidding process has to be streamlined. Also, the qualification criteria should be made conducive for larger participation.´
While Sreekumar is optimistic about the opportunity in aviation infrastructure and the growth it will bring, he points out to the challenges involved. ´If there is no increase in year-to-year capacity by more than 20 per cent, the result will be congestion,´ he reasons. ´The long process period for land acquisition is a deterrent in taking up many projects.´ That said, he confirms that AAI has already made its action plan to augment capacities in terms of the number of airports, the details of which are given in the table below. Evidently, it is time to fasten the safety belts and get building!
- SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN
(With contractors inputs from Seraphina D´Souza)