Business & Economy

Nepal Courts India's Adani Group to Manage Its Chinese-Built Airports: Sources

© Photo : Social MediaPokhara Airport, Nepal
Pokhara Airport, Nepal - Sputnik India, 1920, 28.06.2024
During a visit to India last year, Nepal's Prime Minister Pushpa Kumar Dahal Prachanda is believed to have sought India's help to manage the landlocked country's newly-built airports.
Nepalese officials have been holding talks with top executives of Indian billionaire conglomerate Adani Enterprises to manage its three international airports. The multinational publicly-listed holding company is part of the Adani Group.
Senior executives from Adani Airport Holdings Limited (AAHL), a subsidiary of Adani Enterprises, have been holding "preliminary talks" with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) in Kathmandu at the invitation of the Nepalese agency, Nepalese sources said.
They pointed out that the meetings have been taking place since January when the group's Chairman Gautam Adani expressed an interest in investing in Nepal's airport and energy sectors during a meeting with the state's Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat on the margins of the 'Vibrant Gujarat Summit' in India.

During these meetings, Nepalese officials are believed to have "actively courted" the Indian firm to participate in a proposed tender to manage the country’s airport operations, according to the sources.

However, Adani executives are yet to make a final call on the matter till the conglomerate gauges the "feasibility" of operating the airports, they added.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal has decided to outsource the operation of at least three airports – Pokhara Regional International Airport (PRIA), Gautam Buddha International Airport (GBIA) and the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) – to a third company through a global tender.

One of the crucial factors is the "profitability" of running the airports in Nepal. It is believed that only the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), the country's main airport in Kathmandu, has a running profit. The other two airports, built with the help of foreign loans, are finding it difficult to attract airlines.

The Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairahawa, inaugurated in May 2022, was built by the Northwest Civil Aviation Airport Construction Group of China. It has been funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB) and OPEC Fund for International Development.
On the other hand, the Pokhara International Airport, inaugurated last January, was constructed with the help of a $215 million loan from China's Export-Import Bank. It has been built by China CAMC Engineering Company Limited.
The Pokhara Airport has been described as the flagship project built under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Nepal.

Adani's Airport Portfolio

According to Adani's website, the firm is involved in running the operations of India's seven "top-tier airports" located in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati, and Thiruvananthapuram.
In January, Sri Lanka's Tourism Minister Harin Fernando told an Indian publication on the sidelines of an event in Mumbai that Adani could manage Sri Lankan airports, including the Colombo International Airport.

Meanwhile, Sputnik India has learned that the group has been looking to take over operations of 3-4 more airports in India, as part of its strategy to expand into the medium and small airport segment in Tier-2 and Tier-3 cities.

A man attends the Belt and Road Summit in Hong Kong on August 31, 2022 - Sputnik India, 1920, 04.01.2023
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