AAI plans SAARC nations foray to expand business, hike revenue; govt looks to build influence in region

State-run Airport Authority of India (AAI) is planning to enter into SAARC countries with an aim to increase its revenue through building airport terminals and air traffic management. The government, on the other hand, is looking at this move as a bid to build the country's influence in the region, said a media report.

According to the plan, the AAI will offer to build airport terminals, impart training in terminal and air traffic management, search and rescue operations, besides steps to increase non-aeronautical revenue in the countries coming under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), reported Business Standard.

SAARC is the regional intergovernmental organisation and geopolitical union of states in South Asia. Its member states include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

 AAI plans SAARC nations foray to expand business, hike revenue; govt looks to build influence in region

Representational image. Reuters.

“The business development unit of AAI has begun discussions with several countries in SAARC region to pitch how the expertise of AAI can help in developing aviation infrastructure in those countries,” a senior AAI official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

The AAI asked the ministry of civil aviation and ministry of external affairs to make this a part of the agenda whenever there are bilateral negotiations of India with these countries. The move aims at India’s bid to enhance influence in the region and a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative in the region, the report said quoting the official.

Last week, the AAI and Boeing inked pact for technical assistance for developing an air traffic management road map aiming at improving airspace utilisation and assisting to maintain efficient aircraft operations, said a report in Mint.

The prime objective of the pact is to develop a plan based on global and local best practices to utilise airspace capacity completely, improve communications and invest in navigation, surveillance and air traffic management, said the report.

In March this year, the government had approved a proposal to "revive and develop" a number of "unserved and under-served airports" across the country at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore in a bid to boost regional air connectivity.

"Cabinet approves revival and development of unserved and under-served airstrips of state governments, AAI, civil enclaves, Central Public Sector Units (CPSU), helipads and water aerodromes," a government statement read.

According to the statement, the government would spend Rs 4,500 crore on the entire exercise.

On 6 March this year, the Kerala government had moved the high court challenging the AAI's "arbitrary and illegal" attempt to prefer a private entity for the management of Thiruvananthapuram International Airport.

In its writ petition filed on 5 March, the state government submitted that the AAI's attempt to grant the rights of operation, management and development of the airport to the Adani Enterprises Ltd was not in public interest.

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Updated Date: Jun 11, 2019 16:07:47 IST