This airport was the most profitable AAI airport in 2021-22

Airports in India run by Airports Authority of India (AAI) have lost INR 1524 crore in FY 2021-22, shows a report by the Government of India. Interestingly, the two largest airports which the AAI owns and operates – Kolkata and Chennai were at the opposite ends of the spectrum with Kolkata recording the best profits amongst the 123 airports for which details were shared while Chennai recording the worst losses.

Kolkata recorded a profit of INR 145.28 crore while Chennai recorded a loss of INR 189.85 crore. Only 13 airports were profitable in FY 2021-22 while fourteen airports did not report either profits or loss. These 14 are the ones which do not see any service and have been lying vacant. Most likely these airports have not recorded either profits or losses because the AAI isn’t spending anything on these and not getting any revenue either. 

The list of airports has a long list of airports which aren’t operational and also the likes of Sardarjung or Hyderabad – Begumpet which do not serve scheduled carriers anymore. 

The profit making ones

Kolkata was followed by Pune – which is a civil enclave at an Indian Air Force station. Pune recorded a profit of INR 39.13 crore. The next ones in the list are all the same – civil enclaves at Indian Air Force bases. Srinagar, Leh, Darbhanga, Jamnagar and Jammu.

The surprise entries are Vellore, Kailashahar, Behala, Khowai and Kamalpur. Vellore has seen upgradation of facilities but there aren’t any services which are operational. The situation is the same for Kailashahar, Khowai and Kamalpur which are in Tripura. Behala, located near Kolkata, has a flying club which would garner some revenue for the operator. 

Highest losses

Chennai – the biggest (by international passenger traffic) airport owned by Airports Authority of India saw the highest losses amongst the airports. The airport has been undergoing upgrades for a very long time and is yet to see all sections being opened up for passengers. 

The top 10 loss making airports included Dehradun, Agartala – which recently saw a new terminal and apron being inaugurated, Delhi – Sardarjung, Vijayawada, Varanasi, Bhopal, Vadodara, Rajahmundry and Ranchi. 

Beyond the top 10, there are many airports which have been showing growth in passenger numbers but have not been able to make ends meet. This includes Indore, Surat, Amritsar, Aurangabad, Madurai, Raipur, Coimbatore, Udaipur, Rajkot which see regular commercial service as well as airports like Cuddapah, Kishangarh, Jharsuguda, Deogarh which are primarily catering to RCS-UDAN flights. 

How was it in the past three years

While COVID hit the sector really hard, the gradual increase saw the small towns record larger numbers than the metros but over a period of time this stabilized and metros caught up. 

The same set of airports had a cumulative loss of INR 2618 crore in FY20-21, with just four airports beyond breakeven. 

The Indian government has been working towards privatization of airports. The idea is to keep investing in opening up smaller airports and privatize the larger ones so that it gives revenue to the state exchequer.

Network Thoughts 

The fall of TruJet and scaling down of SpiceJet has had an impact on airport connectivity with a few airports falling off the grid completely. The AAI has spent considerable amounts to get them operational and maintain them and will now show up as loss making in absence of flight operations.

Some of the major airports in the country are privatised. This includes those at Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad and airport results are not always available to compare, since GMR has not declared airport wise split for all years. Adani Enterprises which operates six airports through its subsidiary Adani Airports does not share revenues or profit/loss for its airport business. This makes it difficult to compare the AAI airports against privatized airports. 

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