Mumbai: Celebi Aviation Holding India, the local arm of the Turkish ground handling services company, hopes to bag ground handling contracts at many of the airports that are being privatized.
“We have bid for quite a few of them. Results should be out soon,” Celebi Aviation Holding India's chief executive officer Murali Ramachandran said in an interview.
Six airports-Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru-that are currently run by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) are up for biddings. The last date for submission of bids is 14 February and contracts will be issued on 28 February.
Mint reported on 8 January that international airport operators, including those of Zurich and Singapore's Changi airport, are evaluating India's privatization plans for these six airports. Celebi already provides ground handling services at three major Indian airports- Mumbai, Delhi and Bengaluru-and also operates in smaller cities like Cochin, Ahmedabad and Kannur.
Celebi recently won the ground handling licence for Hyderabad's Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) for a period of 10 years after an international bidding process. The company, which hopes to start its Hyderabad operations by March-end, will make an investment of about $5 million, primarily in ground handling infrastructure needed to operate in airports, and in building workshops and other facilities.
Celebi had last year showed an interest in acquiring Air India's ground handling unit, Air India Air Transport Services Ltd (AIATSL), when the government was considering divesting the national carrier. However, the government refused to sell subsidiaries of the national carrier separately.
“AIATSL is a big opportunity for us. But, we don't know when the government will actually divest it,” Ramachandran said. “Now, they (government) are looking at separately hiving off the subsidiaries and selling them,” he said, adding, “We haven't been involved in the official process yet since it hasn't officially begun. But, we are eagerly waiting to hear from the government.”
At present, AIATSL is the largest ground handling service provider at airports across the country.
Other prominent players include Air India SATS Airport Services Pvt. Ltd, Bird Group and Celebi Aviation Holding India.