Published On:February 10 2024
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Adani Group Eyes Operation of Three Airports in Sri Lanka

Negotiations are underway between the Adani Group and Sri Lankan authorities regarding the management of three airports in the island nation, with a particular focus on Bandaranaike International Airport in Colombo, Sri Lanka's premier international gateway. Harin Fernando, Sri Lanka’s minister for tourism, land, sports, and youth affairs, disclosed on Friday that discussions are ongoing to establish the modalities, potentially involving management contracts.

The other two airports under consideration are Ratmalana Airport in Colombo and Mattala Airport, the latter of which gained notoriety as the world’s emptiest international airport seven years ago.

Fernando, speaking to businessline during the OTM travel show in Mumbai, expressed plans to collaborate with the Adani Group in airport management amidst a resurgence in tourism. Foreign tourist arrivals in Sri Lanka doubled to 1.48 million in 2023, placing strain on the country’s airport infrastructure. The involvement of a private partner like the Adani Group is anticipated to aid in expanding facilities and enhancing the overall passenger experience.

While the Adani Group declined to respond to inquiries on the matter, if the negotiations succeed, it would mark the conglomerate's inaugural venture into overseas aviation. The group has already established a presence in Sri Lanka's ports and renewable energy sector, securing significant funding for its west container terminal project in Colombo from the US International Development Finance Corporation in November.

Currently managing eight airports in India, serving 23% of the country's passenger base, the Adani Group's potential expansion into Sri Lanka coincides with the nation's efforts to boost tourism. Fernando highlighted India as the largest source market for Sri Lanka's tourism, accounting for 37% of all arrivals in 2023.

With ambitions to attract 2.3 million tourists in 2024 and four million by 2030, Sri Lanka is pursuing extensive development projects in the tourism and hospitality sectors. Investments are underway, with notable international hotel chains like ITC, IHG, and Ritz Carlton expanding their presence in the country.

Fernando emphasized the Sri Lankan government's commitment to public-private partnerships as essential for economic growth, drawing inspiration from successful models in India. He underscored the nation's potential for growth and its strategic focus on tourism development as key drivers of economic prosperity.

HBL





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