The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is planning to raise up to $300 million through External Commercial Borrowings (ECBs) in the next financial year as part of its ₹25,000-crore capex.

The funds will be raised to create and strengthen the country’s airport infrastructure.

The State-owned airport operator secured Board approval last month to raise funds through the ECB route, Arvind Singh, Chairman of AAI, said on the sidelines of Wings India 2020 Aviation Show.

From a monopoly situation of managing airports in the country, we now have both public and private operators, with the private sector operators accounting for more than 50 per cent of the total traffic handled in the country.

Given the market potential and the government’s vision to have 100 more airports in the country, AAI is planning to augment capacity from 345 million to 700 million over the next five years. This will be by building new airports, upgrading existing airports and unused airstrips.

In 2020-21, AAI expects to deploy about ₹5,000 crore and plans to fund about 40 per cent through debt. Of the rest, ₹500 crore will be provided by the government for developing smaller airports for regional flights, and through internal accruals, he said.

In the past five years, 48 under-served airports have been operationalised, boosting the regional connectivity that is generating huge traffic and contributing to the overall growth of the aviation sector.

Earlier, during a panel discussion, participants from Airbus, Boeing, Vistara, GMR and Embraer were upbeat on the potential of the aviation sector.

Gavin Eccles, Managing Partner, GE Consulting & Advisory, felt that India needs to build several airports in major cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai to boost the growth of the aviation.

Facial recognition

Your face could soon be your boarding card when you are catching a flight from Vijayawada, Pune, Varanasi and Kolkata.

These airports, managed by AAI, plan to introduce facial recognition-based boarding for passengers flying through this airport. “The project should get under way by October this year,” Arvind Singh told BusinessLine on the sidelines of Wings India 2020.

Trials for facial recognition on domestic passengers were done between July 1 and 31, 2019 at the Hyderabad airport. To be able to use this facility, the passenger has to register with the airport operator — in the case of Hyderabad GVK, Kolkata, Vijayawada and two other airports with the AAI.