Three Indian companies are among the six shortlised to bid for the privatisation of the Male International Airport in Maldives.
The evaluation committee, mandated by the Maldives government, has shortlisted GMR, which operates the new greenfield airport at Hyderabad and is constructing the world's second largest airport in Delhi.
Also in the shortlist is a consortia of Reliance Infrastructure (with the Mexican government-owned Aeropuertos Y Servicios Auxilliares as partner), and GVK Airport Developers Ltd in partnership with Flughafen Zurich AG, which runs the Zurich Airport in Switzerland.
Malé International Airport, located just three km from the capital city of Male at the island of Hulhulé, is the largest airport in Maldives, with a traffic of over 2.5 million passengers every year.
The investment required for the project - which includes operation, maintenance, expansion, rehabilitation and modernisation of the existing airport - may run into several hundred million dollars, said sources.
Privatisation of airports in Maldives is part of the government's initiative to attract large scale private sector investments into the tourism driven economy of Maldives. Final bid submission is expected by May.
The other shortlisted players in the fray are Canada's SNC Lavalin International with Vienna Airport (Flughafen Wien AG), TAV Airports Holdings Company of Turkey and Aéroports de Paris Management company of France.
Sources said there were 18 parties interested in bidding for the Male airport. The winner will get a controlling stake in the government-owned Maldives Airport Company
International Finance Cooperation, a subsidiary of the World Bank, is providing technical support to the Maldives government in privatisation of the airport.
Sources said GMR Infrastructure Global, a subsidiary of GMR Infrastructure, had already signed a Memorandum of Understanding in November last year with the Maldivian government to upgrade the Hanimaadhoo domestic airport in the upper north province of Maldives into an international airport.
The company has submitted a two-phase development plan for this airport a few days ago, with suggestions to construct a 2.8 km runway and related infrastructure in the first phase. The Maldives government anticipates traffic at the proposed international airport at Hanimadhoo to rise to 2.5 million passengers by 2025. Currently this airport has a runway of 4,000 feet and handles only about 20 flights a day, said sources.
GMR also runs the Sabiha Gokcen International Airport in Turkey, along with a consortium of Limak Insaat and Malaysia Airports Holding Berhad.
A GMR spokesperson declined to comment on the developments. Telephone calls to some of the senior executives of GMR remained unanswered.
Both Reliance Infrastructure and GVK spokespersons were not available for comments.
A GVK led consortium runs the Mumbai International Airport. The G V Krishna Reddy-controlled GVK Power and Infrastructure also had recently acquired a 29 per cent stake in the new Bengaluru International Airport.
Anil Ambani Group-led Reliance Infrastructure is relatively a new entrant into development of airports and recently the Maharashtra Government had chosen the company to develop and operate five non-metro airports in Maharashtra.