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NEWS UPDATES 5 July 2010

Malaysia Airports flying in India

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India may turn out to be Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd's (MAHB) (5014) signature overseas venture given expectations of a rapid increase in the number of people turning to air travel on the Indian subcontinent, according to the New Straits Times.

MAHB currently helps manage four international airports in India, Turkey and the Maldives. They include the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad and the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport here, India's largest.

The IGI Airport is seen as the most lucrative for MAHB as there are plans to raise its passenger capacity to 100 million over the next decade.

MAHB owns a 10 percent stake in the consortium led by India's GMR group which was given a 30-year concession in 2006 to manage and expand the IGI Airport. The company, however, will have to wait a bit longer before reaping the fruits of its labour in the world's second most populous nation, MAHB managing director Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad said.

"The airport industry has a long gestation period. It will take six to seven year before we can see significant returns from our investments abroad," he told visiting Malaysian reporters here last Saturday.

The IGI Airport's Terminal 3 (T3) has increased passenger capacity to 34 million. Its next phase of expansion in six to seven years will raise the capacity to some 60 million to 70 million passengers.

"There will be Phases 2 and 3 for the IGI Airport," Bashir said.

The IGI Airport currently handles some 24 million passengers a year.

India is forecast to handle a whopping 180 million passengers by 2020, with total investments in its aviation sector expected to be more than US$100 billion (RM322 billion) in that period.

India's Minister of Civil Aviation, Praful Patel, is optimistic of the country's aviation sector.

"India is now the ninth largest aviation market in the world. In a short period of time, maybe five years, we will become among the top five," he said.

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