Adani Airports raises $250m for development projects

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Adani Airports, which develops and manages airports across India, including Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Mangaluru, Mumbai, Guwahati, Jaipur and Thiruvananthapuram, has raised $250m in funding for capital expenditure and the development of six airports in its portfolio.

The funding was secured through a three-year ECB facility from two international banks, with an option to raise an additional $200m. The financing structure will enable a scalable capital solution with flexibility to tap global capital markets in line with Adani Airports’ vision of providing a transformational airport infrastructure platform.

“We are focused on delivering high quality infrastructure access to our consumers both through physical and digital channels,” said a spokesperson for Adani Airports. “The first phase of our capital management plan is now set in motion with the funding of Adani Airports, Mumbai Airport Limited and Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited, and we will now focus on scaling up the airports business into one of the largest airport platforms globally. We are grateful to our stakeholders and consumers for their continued support and their confidence in us.”

Adani Airports recently concluded the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) $750m private placement to Apollo and $1.74bn closure of Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL).

Adani Airports’ airport portfolio is responsible for 50% of the top 10 domestic routes in India, 23% of the total Indian air traffic and 30% of India’s air cargo. The group handles around 200m customers per annum.

Header image: Lucknow Airport

BLR Airport emerges as southern India’s primary transfer hub

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As an emerging aerospace sector, India’s aviation sector has been one of the fastest growing markets in the world in the first two decades of the 21st century.

Connecting to a wide catchment of 23 cities within 75 minutes of flying range, Kempegowda International Airport Bengaluru (BLR) is now recognised as a key transfer hub for South India.

Serving a population of around 256 million people, one fifth of India’s population, the geographical location of Bengaluru as well as the flourishing economy of the State of Karnataka have both helped in positioning BLR as the major aviation gateway of South and Central India.

As the third busiest airport in India, BLR  offered connectivity to 74 domestic destinations in 2021 compared to 54 domestic destinations pre-COVID. By facilitating robust connectivity to remote areas the air transport hub is not only serving as a gateway to and from the region, but but is also driving economic growth.

Flights from BLR to non-metro destinations have shown a considerable increase from 58% (pre-COVID) to 63% in CY 2021. In addition, between Q1 and Q4, 2021, traffic on non-metro routes increased by 27% reinforcing strong demand on these city-pairs.

In 2021, nearly 19% of traffic at the airport comprised of transfer passengers as against ~10% pre-COVID. The major airports contributing to high volumes of transfer passengers at BLR were Chennai, Kochi, Hyderabad and Goa.

Offering world-class infrastructure and facilities to cater for transit passengers, BLR Airport has a wide array of shopping and dining options. It also offers a transit hotel, revamped lounges and has augmented two of its existing transfer zones by creating additional lane for the smooth transfer of passengers. With the opening of Terminal 2, the airport also expects to enhance its transfer experience even further and making its mark as the New Gateway to India.

Kempegowda Airport partners with Envirotainer for temperature-controlled cargo solutions

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Kempegowda Airport (BLR) in Bengaluru has become the fourth airport in India and the second in South India to partner with Envirotainer – a world leader in active cold-chain solutions for air cargo.

This new collaboration will enable Kempegowda Airport to provide customers with advanced temperature-controlled air cargo solutions throughout the entire journey.

The temperature-controlled supply-chain facility will allow pharmaceutical companies and their logistics partners to move temperature-sensitive cargo across the world.

Essentially, this means that temperature is maintained throughout the journey to create an unbroken cold chain from manufacturing to the point of consumption. Backed by two dedicated cold zones, operated by Air India SATS Airport Services (AI-SATS) and Menzies Aviation Bobba Bangalore (MABB), the new cold-chain solution will boost the movement of pharmaceutical products from major manufacturing clusters such as Hyderabad, Goa, Vishakhapatnam and other places in South India. AI-SATS will provide the handling and storing services for Envirotainer.

Pharmaceutical products account for 13% of the total international cargo throughput from BLR Airport each year, with USA, UK, Australia, Canada, France, Vietnam, Philippines, Germany, Nigeria, Algeria, Uganda and Russia being the top destinations.

Airports Authority of India enhances airspace with Aireon System

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Aireon’s space-based ADS-B air traffic surveillance system is now in use across Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata’s oceanic airspace. Having signed a contract with Aireon 18 months ago, Airports Authority of India (AAI) is making significant strides towards enhancing safety and efficiency across their ever-growing, highly trafficked area.

With a vast airspace of more than 9 million square kilometres, the deployment of space-based ADS-B provides an additional layer of surveillance, backing up AAI’s existing ground-based network. Improved communications and data sharing between Asia, the Middle East and Europe is also a main objective aimed at reducing delays and improving the flying experience for all users.

“The collaboration and determination to complete the implementation testing remotely by both the AAI and Aireon teams have set the region up for a successful 2021,” said Vineet Gulati, Board Member, Air Navigation Services, AAI. “Despite the challenges that came because of the ongoing global pandemic, AAI was able to continue testing to prepare our airspace to go live with Aireon’s safety-of-life service. When travel picks up again, AAI will be ready to support the rapid increase of aircraft in a cohesive and efficient manner.”

Prior to the roll out of the Aireon system, aircaft had to fly at uneconomical levels due to the high-traffic and many conflict points at crossing paths, burning extra fuel and resulting in additional expenses for airlines. Now, with more accurate position reporting available throughout the entire region, aircraft are more likely to get preferred flight levels and route changes, alleviating the prior issues.

Don Thoma, Aireon’s CEO, commented that “Deploying real-time air traffic surveillance is an initiative that has driven AAI to be a leader not only in the region, but throughout the world.” He added that AAI’s determination to “prepare for future air travel and improve safety to match their robust traffic growth is the innovative thinking that is propelling the aviation industry forward.”

Leh in India welcomes IndiGo link with Delhi

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Situated in the ‘land of Buddhist Monasteries’ in India, Leh Airport in Ladakh has become the 63rd domestic destination on IndiGo’s network. The ULCC will commence daily flights between Delhi and Leh from 22 February, 2021.

Leh is known for its magnificent landscapes, favourable weather, adventurous activities, Buddhist monasteries and festivals. It’s peak tourist season is typically from April to September. The new route is one of seven being added to IndiGo’s network during the coming months with Darbhanga, Kurnool, Agra, Bareilly, Durgapur and Rajkot all expected to join the airline’s network by the beginning of May.

“We are pleased to begin expansion of our domestic network beyond the pre-covid levels. This will also be our first destination amongst the seven regional stations we announced recently. We are working towards enhancing regional connectivity, which will not only increase access but also promote domestic trade and tourism in the country,” said Sanjay Kumar, Chief Strategy and Revenue Officer at IndiGo.

He added: “IndiGo is committed to providing an affordable, on-time, safe and hassle-free travel experience onboard our lean clean flying machine.”

Kempegowda Airport records high cargo throughput

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India’s Kempegowda International Airport in Bengaluru (BLR) has recorded a 26-month high in cargo tonnage, having handled 34,339 metric tonnes of cargo in October 2020.

The airport witnessed its highest-ever domestic outbound tonnage of 8,117 MT last month, largely driven by e-commerce shipments. Perishable commodities, which have been the major growth driver for BLR Airport in 2020-21, continued to be the top international commodity, accounting for 12% of total exports in October.

The airport became the first air transport hub in India to witness positive growth in September 2020, with this trend continuing in October, when the airport registered a 0.1% increase against October 2019. The record single-day Air Traffic Movement (ATM) was 52 ATMs on 22 October, when the airport saw a volume of 1,359 MT of cargo.

Editor’s comment: The domestic boom

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While most commercial passenger travel has been on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, this week has seen the return of domestic services for India’s aviation sector.

Despite the number of new coronavirus cases still rising in India, the resumption of domestic flights is a clear signal that the country is moving to end its lockdown and is bracing for what comes next. To ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and staff, Airports Authority of India (AAI) has issued standard operating procedures to all its airports. These includes the need for passengers to register with the Aarogya Setu app on their phones. The contact tracing app has been developed by the Indian Government to connect essential health services with the people of India in the fight against COVID-19.

In line with India’s return to domestic services, a survey carried out this month found that domestic travel in the US and Canada is also set to boom. More than 14,000 US and Canadian travellers were surveyed in the study conducted by AirportParkingReservations.com.

Some 57% of respondents said that if they were to travel in 2020, it would be domestically in the US and Canada.

“Our customers are telling us that they would like to travel soon,” said Carlos Chilin, General Manger of AirportParkingReservations.com and ParkSleepFly.com. “They’ve indicated that a big factor for their decisions will be the health and safety protocols implemented to make them feel protected. Tourist locations in the US have a big opportunity to capitalise on the pent-up demand that should come as travel increases.”

Of course, the demand for domestic travel is not just limited to air travel. While flights aren’t ruled out of the equation, 43% of respondents also said they were interested in taking a road trip in 2020.

But whatever the mode of transport, it’s perhaps no surprise that as travel restrictions are lifted around the world airports and airlines will see demand leaning towards domestic travel first.

Have a safe weekend,

Chloë Greenbank, Regional Gateway Editor.

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