Adani to increase airports business in India amid aviation boom

FILE PHOTO: The logo of the Adani group is seen on the facade of one of its buildings on the outskirts of Ahmedabad
The logo of the Adani group is seen on the facade of one of its buildings on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, India, April 13, 2021. REUTERS/Amit Dave

NEW DELHI, March 22 (Reuters) - India's Adani Group will focus on expanding its aviation business and plans to bid for more government-run airports when they come up for privatisation, Adani Airports' chief executive said on Wednesday.

The South Asian nation is the world's fastest-growing aviation market, with demand for air travel outstripping the supply of planes. Some major airports are already reaching full capacity even as airlines continue to order more planes.

Air India last month placed a record order for 470 jets and domestic rival IndiGo is in talks for a new order of more than 500 planes, Reuters reported this month, even as it waits to take delivery of the same number from an older order.

"Our ambition is to do more airports in India," Adani Airports CEO Arun Bansal said, adding that the government's airport privatisation policy is publicly known, "and we intend to bid for that".

Adani already owns and operates seven airports, including six that it won as part of the government's first privatisation drive, and a new airport it is building in Navi Mumbai on the outskirts of India's financial capital.

The government has plans to privatise 25 more airports under a public-private partnership until 2025 and Bansal said the group would look at bidding "if the conditions are right".

The expansion plans come as billionaire Gautam Adani's group tries to rebuild investor confidence after U.S. short-seller Hindenburg Research accused it of stock manipulation and improper use of tax havens - charges the company has denied.

Hindenburg's Jan. 24 report eroded more than $100 billion in the value of the company's shares.

Asked if the group's challenges would affect airport expansion or investment plans, Bansal brushed aside concerns, saying it is pushing ahead and all its projects are on track.

"Our strategy is simple - to create scale," he told reporters on the sidelines of the CAPA India conference.

Reporting by Aditi Shah; Writing by Tanvi Mehta and Shivam Patel; Editing by Jacqueline Wong and Jonathan Oatis

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