About 15 profitable airports operated by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) could be put under private management in the first such privatization initiative by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) as part of the broader Government move to enhance India’s aviation infrastructure. Earlier, the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) had privatized facilities at the nation’s two biggest aviation hubs - Mumbai and New Delhi - besides the two southern airports in Bangalore and Hyderabad. Among the profitable airports still under the management of the AAI, are Ahmedabad, Chennai, Jaipur, Kolkata, and Lucknow. The Government had earlier decided to award only management contracts at AAI-owned airports to private parties. However, attempts to award contracts for the Jaipur and Ahmedabad airports did not receive encouraging bidding interest. In what would virtually be the second wave of airports privatization in India, one of the world’s fastest-expanding aviation markets, think-tanks are working toward building a model mechanism that would shift management and operating ownership of the auctioned facilities away from the AAI. The new model concession agreement would take into account all eventualities, including real-estate development on airport land. Analysts welcomed the move, saying that the latest wave of privatization would drastically improve airport infrastructure in the country. “This, by far, is the best solution to improve airport infrastructure. If the Government does come out with a proper model agreement, I am sure it will receive immense response from many Indian players that have a lot of appetite left,” said Sanjay Sethi, Managing Director and CEO at infrastructure advisory firm Nestor Consulting. Sethi, however, added that global players may not be too keen on some of the properties since the airports on offer would include those in relatively smaller cities. #1072.21