Mumbai: The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has yet again extended the dates to submit bids for the privatization of Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports to 10 April, AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said, adding this time, several changes in maintenance and operations are proposed to attract bidders.

The authority had extended the bid submission deadline several times last year.

“There were certain issues expressed by the prospective bidders in the bid document. To address the concerns, AAI held interactive meetings with the prospective domestic and international bidders and based on the inputs received, necessary changes have been made in the draft ‘Operation and Maintenance Agreement’ to address the major concerns," AAI chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said in an interview.

AAI, which decided to partially privatize Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports early 2017, has found it difficult to attract potential bidders, due to stringent terms and conditions of contract.

The contract period has now been extended to 15 years from the initial 10 years, apart from changes in the bidding parameters.

“Some of the issues raised by bidders included stringent performance-related monitoring parameters, a greater say in capex (capital expenditure) planning and infusion, clarity on ownership structure, among the others," said another senior AAI official, who didn’t want to be named.

“While some conditions have been changed, some like the capex liability, which the bidders wanted to undertake themselves, remains with AAI. But bidders will be allowed to work on master planning, designing of airport and will be working in tandem with AAI," the official said, adding prospective bidders who win the project will be allowed to carry out minor changes in terminal building and other changes without taking AAI approval.

An official at GMR Group, which operates airports at Delhi and Hyderabad, said that despite the revisions, nothing much has changed. “It’s highly unlikely that GMR will bid for the project," said the official, who asked not to be named.

A GMR spokesperson didn’t immediately comment on the issue.

GVK Group, which runs the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), is yet to decide.

“We are yet to see the modified terms and conditions (of contract). We will have to see if the projects are commercially viable for us," said a GVK spokesperson.

During 2018, AAI will begin ramping up capacity at several Indian airports including Chennai, Srinagar, Pune, Dehradun, Lucknow, Mangalore, Jaipur, Goa, Agartala, Guwahati, Leh, Patna, Trichy, Vijayawada, Port Blair, Agartala, Calicut, Trivandrum and Jabalpur.

Expansion work has already been awarded at Guwahati and Agartala airports and tenders have been called for Chennai and Lucknow airports, Mohapatra said, adding that work on the remaining airports will be awarded during 2018-19.

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