“We are going to the cabinet tomorrow with further airport privatization plan. We have got many more airports lined up—dozens of them," Puri said at a webinar organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) on Tuesday. “And the 100 more airports that we will build between now and 2030, I think, will all augur well (for the economy)."
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government plans to privatize 30-35 airports over the next five years.
In the second round of airport auctions, state-run airport operator Airports Authority of India has chosen the airports at Varanasi, Bhubaneshwar, Amritsar, Indore, Raipur and Trichi, Mint reported on 21 May.
AAI operates most of the airports in the country. It also owns stakes in privately run airports such as the ones in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru.
“Everybody should put their heads together to ensure we do this in the correct, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way," Puri said.
In May, Modi had asked the civil aviation ministry to accelerate plans to privatize six more airports in the second round of auction.
Privatization is aimed at making airports more efficient and also increase revenues for the exchequer. The pandemic, which has disrupted air travel and dealt a blow on the confidence of travellers, however, is expected to force the government to be more liberal with the rules it sets for private bidders in the next auction.
Puri said he hoped that air travel will continue to grow. “I am extremely confident that both the domestic civil aviation and international civil aviation through bilateral air bubbles will revive very soon," said Puri.
He expects that by Diwali, domestic air travel would reach 50-55% of pre-covid-level, and return to pre-covid levels by the end of the year.
India lifted on 25 June a two-month suspension on all flights by allowing domestic flights in a staggered manner.
Only limited international flights under bilateral arrangement are allowed now besides cargo flights.
Domestic airlines are allowed to use only a third of their earlier-approved summer schedule.
Addressing the CII webinar on fostering steel usage in housing, construction and aviation sectors, Puri said housing and civil aviation sectors were key customers of the steel industry and that it was incumbent upon the steel industry to ensure that user industries receive steel at comparable international prices while the government extends a helping hand to the steel industry’s growth.
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