New Delhi: Cochin International Airport Ltd (Cial), the company that built the new international airport at Kochi, India’s first to be built by a private sector firm, is looking to build airports in India and in other countries in an effort to tap growing demand for airline infrastructure in many parts of the world.
Cial plans to participate in the modernization programme of 35 non-metro airports in the country and also wants to build airports in Sri Lanka, Ghana, Angola and Papua New Guinea, according to S. Bharat, managing director, Cial.
Cial was promoted by the Kerala government, financial institutions, airport service providers, non-resident Keralites and a group of entrepreneurs.
The single largest shareholder in the company is the state government with 35% of the paid-up capital.
Bharat added that Cial is in talks with an international finance company and a technical partner to promote a new company that will handle these projects.
Cial’s overseas plans come at a time when international airport operators such as Singapore’s Changi Airport International (CAI), Airport Company South Africa Ltd, Fraport AG and other leading players from Mexico, Turkey, Paris and Germany are looking to partner with Indian companies to bid for airport projects in the country. Singapore’s CAI had floated a joint venture company with Tata Realty & Infrastructure Ltd, a subsidiary of the Tata group for the airport modernization projects in India.
If it wins any of the projects to build airports outside the country, Cial will be following in the footsteps of Bangalore-based GMR Infrastructure Ltd, the lead partner in the consortium that runs Delhi International Airport, which will be developing Sabiha Gokeen International Airport (SGIA) at Istanbul, Turkey. GMR’S partners in this project are Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhard and Limak Insaat Sanavi San Ve Tic A S Turkey.
Bharat confirmed Cial’s overseas aspirations.
“The government of Sri Lanka has invited us to study the possibilities of building an airport there. We have got offers from Ghana, Angola and Papua New Guinea. Cial’s team will shortly visit those countries,” he said.
Cial plans to take up overseas airport projects on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) or build-own-operate (BOO) basis. Under the BOT model, the developer constructs and manages a project for a specified time before handing it over to the government; in the BOO model, the developer continues to operate the project with a local partner.
“The funding of these airport projects would be done by a special purpose company formed under Cial,” Bharat said.
He declined to name the international partners citing confidentiality agreements.
“We are also looking at bidding for the ongoing airport projects within India as we can make airports at lower cost,” Bharat added. The Cochin airport was built at a cost of Rs315 crore including the cost of land.
A government committee on infrastructure, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, has estimated that India will need to spend more than Rs40,000 crore in developing airports between 2006-07 and 2013-14. Of this, an estimated Rs31,100 crore is expected to come from public-private partnerships.
The ministry of civil aviation has decided to modernize and upgrade 35 non-metro airports across India.
Besides, the government is also planning to build greenfield airports at Navi Mumbai (Maharashtra), Kannur (Kerala), Hassan and Gulbarga (Karnataka), Ludhiana (Punjab), Greater Noida (NCR), Paykong (Sikkim), Cheithu (Nagaland) and Chakan (near Pune, Maharashtra).
“At a time when current airport modernization programmes envisage spending at least Rs5,000 crore for a single project, Cial had built a world class product on a very modest budget. Cial can cash in on its expertise in the upcoming non-metro airport projects,” said a Mumbai-based aviation analyst, who does not want to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.