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NEW DELHI : As many as 107 of the 136 airports operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) made losses in FY21, losing a total of 2,948.97 crore as passengers stopped flying amid the covid-19 pandemic.

The losses were more than double those in the previous year, when 91 of these airports reported total losses 1,368.82 crore, according to data submitted by V.K. Singh, minister of state for civil aviation in the Lok Sabha.

In comparison, during FY19, 101 of the AAI-operated airports made losses totalling 1,668.69 crore.

Of the 136 airports operated by state-run AAI, 18 were not operational during FY19, while 19 weren’t operational during FY20 and FY21.

Divergent paths
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Divergent paths

Of these airports, most are fully owned by AAI, while the airport operator owns a stake in a small number of airports in New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Nagpur, Hyderabad and Kannur through a joint venture.

Earnings data for the GMR-operated Hyderabad airport and Fairfax India Holding-led joint venture that operates the Bengaluru airport was not available.

According to the figures submitted by Singh, most airports in tier-I and -II cities reported losses during the past three years.

For instance, popular tier-II airports such as Bhopal, Aurangabad, Belgaum, Chandigarh, Dehradun, Delhi (Safdarjung), Dimapur, Dibrugarh, Gaya, Hubli and Imphal reported losses during FY19, FY20, and FY21.

Other prominent airports such as Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Varanasi, Mumbai, New Delhi, Leh, Lucknow, Jaipur, Ranchi, Vadodara, Vijayawada, Pekyong, Udaipur, Surat, Rajahmundry, Madurai and Mangalore reported losses during FY21 while reporting some profit during one or both of the previous years.

The country’s busiest airport, New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA), reported a loss of 111.77 crore during FY19, a profit of 13.15 crore in FY20 and a loss of 317.41 crore in FY21.

The second busiest, Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), reported a profit of 96.1 crore in FY19, a profit of 2.54 crore in FY20 and a loss of 384.81 crore in FY21.

Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata reported a profit of 461.19 crore in 2018-19, a profit of 545.07 crore in 2019-20, and a loss of 31.04 crore in 2020-21.

The AAI-operated Goa Airport reported profits of 137.48 crore and 146.87 crore during 2018-19 and 2019-20, respectively. The airport, however, reported losses to the tune of 65.75 crore during 2020-21.

Meanwhile, the Pune airport was one of the few airports to report a profit during the past three years. The airport reported a profit of 174.05 crore during 2018-19, a profit of 123.13 crore during 2019-20, and a profit of 16.09 crore during 2020-21.

Interestingly, most regional airports have been loss-making since 2018-19 despite the government’s push to connect smaller airports through the regional connectivity scheme.

As of 31 May 2021, only 47% of total routes and 39% of airports (unserved and underserved) have been operationalized under the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme that’s meant to enhance regional connectivity, rating agency Icra Ltd said in a 20 July report.

“The number of new RCS routes that started operations increased at a healthy pace and stood at 102 and 120 routes in FY2019 and FY2020, respectively, but have declined to 77 new routes in FY2021 due to the covid-19 pandemic," it added

According to Icra Ltd, the airports sector is likely to incur a loss of 5,400 crore in FY21 because of a sharp decline in passenger traffic following the coronavirus outbreak.

Indian airport operators are estimated to have posted a consolidated loss of 7,000 crore in FY21, compared with a profit of 5,160 crore in FY20, aviation consultant Capa India said in a report on Sunday.

Total passenger traffic at Indian airports fell by 66.3% annually in FY21 to 115 million, a level last seen in FY08.

The FY21 figure comprised 105 million domestic airport passengers—equivalent to 52.5 million airline passengers counted twice, once at the departure airport and once at the arrival airport—and just over 10 million international passengers Capa said.

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