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Family Aid 2020
   Vol. 21 No. 24
Thursday June 9, 2022

Adani India Big Time Operator

Jeet Adani

     The Adani Group, headed by Gautam Adani, has, in just over two years after entering the aviation space, become the largest operator in India. Through the Adani Airports Holding Limited (AAHL), it manages the airports at Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Jaipur, Guwahati and Thiruvananthapuram (all the airports were won through a competitive bid that was announced in 2019). Adani also bought the Mumbai International Airport from the GVK group - today, it is the jewel in the crown. The six airports along with the Mumbai airport, handled nearly 80 million passengers in 2019-2020, approximately a quarter of India's total air traffic of 341 million.
     It is no wonder that the Adani Group said in a statement that “AAHL is now India's largest airport infrastructure company, accounting for 25 percent airport footfalls. With the addition of MIAL (Mumbai International Airport Limited), it will now also control 33 per cent of India's air cargo traffic.”
     The group's airports' business model is one of "hybrid revenue". Simply put, the company earns from airport-related activities such as cargo and ground handling, parking, and housing, and aircraft fuelling, and also non-aero functions such as income from duty-free shops, retail licences, advertising, parking space, and development rights on land adjacent to the airport.
     The acquisition of management of the seven airports has enabled Adani to be the biggest private airport operator in India. That means only the government of India, which controls 12 of the major ports and a host of airports through AAI, is AAHL's main rival as far as airports and ports infrastructure is concerned. Incidentally, airports and ports are important and necessary for passenger and cargo movements in what is considered one of the fastest-growing economies of the world.
     The Adani Group has come, according to aviation experts, at the right time. Airline traffic – both domestic and international – is seeing a steady rise. The group believes it will be serving directly to a 300+ mn-strong consumer base comprising fliers as well as non-fliers.
     These seven airports – especially Mumbai – have strong cargo links. We asked Jeet Adani, who spearheads the Adani Airports business, about the group’s plans for cargo.

FT:   With seven airports, what are Adani Airports Cargo’s plans to boost cargo tonnage. What are your plans for the immediate future as well as long term ones?
JA:   All our airports present immense air cargo growth potential, both domestic and international. In the short term, focus is on increasing interim cargo infrastructure in the quickest way possible so that all airports provide enough cargo capacity and infrastructure to improve service levels, provide seamless IT connectivity and improve volumes. In the (not so) long term, all our airports will be equipped with Integrated Cargo Terminals (ICT) with all products and services under one roof (including Transshipment) while the ICTs will be designed and developed to provide enough capacity at least for the next 5 years, based on foreseeable volume demand. All the ICTs will be modular and scalable, with some being highly automated. Roll out of ICTs are expected to bring global service and infrastructure standards to our airports.

FT:   Have you chalked out special plans to boost the pharma cargo and how do you plan to implement that?
JA:   Of course. Some of our airports are already major gateways for pharma exports. In some, we have made some significant investments in the recent past to develop necessary terminal infrastructure to facilitate growth of export of pharma while in others we are actively working on developing global standard pharma logistics centres. We do see pharma has great growth potential for exports.

FT:   A lot has been talked about Krishi Udan 2.0. How are you preparing to service domestic agriculture?
JA:   In all our ICTs, we are developing cool rooms to facilitate movement of perishables. This is both in domestic and international terminals. We are working closely with the concerned government agencies to implement the necessary process and regulatory changes to contribute to the growth of perishables.

FT:   Boosting transshipment cargo has been a major issue for metro airports in the country. How are you planning to grow transshipment cargo?
JA:   It is, indeed. Transshipment process also needs to be defined, standardized and monitored, across the country, through a well thought out TP Policy which is a work in progress by the Ministry. We do see great opportunities to grow this segment, across all its variants such as I2I, I2D, QRT, QWT, etc. Where possible and relevant, we have plans to develop airside dedicated TP facilities for efficient processing of TP shipments on airside. In all our ICTs, the design includes a dedicated TP corridor for seamless processing of TP shipments within ICT, to facilitate QWT shipments. Our systems are already intelligent enough to support very efficient processing of all types of TP movements.

FT:   Are there plans to set up Air Freight Stations for domestic cargo to help declutter the airport cargo terminal?
JA:   We have no plans to set up Air Freight Stations for domestic air cargo, at the moment. We believe decluttering is expected to happen with adoption of automation, process optimization/efficiency and IT integration at the cargo terminals.

Tirthankar Ghosh

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