New Delhi: Airports Authority of India (AAI) will outsource the operations and management of the Ahmedabad and Jaipur airports later this year, chairman Guruprasad Mohapatra said on Tuesday.

The state-run airports operator is working out the modalities and discussing the proposal with the finance ministry and the process is likely to be completed by November, Mohapatra said at a press briefing. 

“We will first start with these (airports) and see how it works, then look at others," he said in reply to a question on whether other airports would also be farmed out.

While AAI ceded control of the Delhi and Mumbai airports to private operators a decade ago, the airports it managed in Bangalore and Hyderabad were shut down as new ones were built by private operators. 

AAI had discussed handing over the operations of these airports to Singapore’s Changi Airport after a memorandum of understanding was signed between the two governments during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit in November. 

Mohapatra said the deal did not work out because Changi realized the scope of work was more than it had estimated. 

AAI, which runs most airports in the country, will spend Rs17,500 crore on airport development by 2019-2020. It hired 800 employees last fiscal and will recruit many more this fiscal, the chairman said. 

The company is also formulating a policy for designing low-cost airports.

Such airports will see cuts in the cost of terminal building and other amenities even though fixed costs like fire systems cannot be changed, Mohapatra said. 

AAI has also asked a consultant to study how to extend the Juhu airport runway in Mumbai, which is flanked by slums on one side and the sea on the other.

The existing Mumbai airport has reached saturation point and will be closed for a few hours for some days around the Diwali festival, IndiGo said in a statement on Tuesday. 

The chairman said there were no plans for AAI to list on the stock exchange at the moment.

Air traffic in India is expected to touch 100 million passengers a year by 2017, up from 80 million in 2015. India recorded the fastest growth in domestic air passenger volumes of 18.8% in 2015, according to the International Air Transport Association. 

India has more than 30 non-operational airports and more than 400 airstrips dating back to World War II. Mohapatra said of these, 20 airports can take flights right away while another 20-30 will be refurbished soon.

Consulting firm Capa Centre for Aviation estimates that India needs investment of $40 billion for airport development. 

Mohapatra also said AAI was chasing all the airlines to clear their dues. While he did not name any airline, he did point to dues owed by the now grounded Kingfisher Airlines. 

Besides dues for using airport services, many of Kingfisher’s planes are still parked at AAI airports. “The whole country is chasing him so we are also chasing him," Mohapatra said, referring to the airline’s promoter Vijay Mallya, who is now in the UK.

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