By Justin Lee (Singapore)
Following our coverage of the airport privatization landscape in the Americas in our previous article, we shift our attention towards the Asia-Pacific region.
Just like in the Americas, this region in 2021 was still in a state of recovery from the pandemic. With a need to focus on the preservation of capital, most investors and airport operators in the Asia-Pacific region remained cautious about making acquiring new airport assets while bureaucratic and political challenges continued to slow down the airport privatization process.
In India, it was Adani Group that made the headlines for the year in terms of airport transactions with its takeover of six airport concessions in a PPP format- Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati as well as Thiruvananthapuram – that it won from the Airport Authority of India through a competitive bid in 2019.
With these six airports, Adani Group vastly increased its airports portfolio, with a separate acquisition of 74% of shares of Mumbai International Airport Limited from GVK Group in August 2020. Apart from control of Mumbai International Airport, this acquisition also gave Adani Group control over the development of Navi Mumbai International Airport project, which had begun construction in September 2021.
The Navi Mumbai International Airport development project is one of India’s largest airport projects alongside the Noida International Airport development project, which begun construction in November 2021 and is another significant PPP project led by Zurich Airport International AG.
For GMR Group, another key airport operator in India and the operator of Delhi and Hyderabad Airports, the year 2021 saw it receive an approval from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for the demerger of its non-airport businesses, turning its listed subsidiary GMR Infrastructure Limited into India’s first pure-play airport company listed on stock exchanges.