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West Bengal to infuse Rs300 crore in BAPL which runs Durgapur airport near Kolkata

LiveMint logoLiveMint 15-09-2017 Arkamoy Dutta Majumdar

Kolkata: The West Bengal government on Thursday decided to infuse up to Rs300 crore to rescue Bengal Aerotropolis Projects Ltd (BAPL), a private firm which runs an airport 200km from Kolkata and in which Singapore’s Changi Airports International owns a substantial stake.

The state cabinet on Thursday decided that West Bengal Industrial Development Corp. will buy shares in the company to raise its stake to 26% from 11%, paying up to Rs180 crore, a minister said, asking not to be identified. It has also been decided that the state will advance Rs120 crore to help BAPL repay outstanding loans, he added.

BAPL’s vice-chairman managing director Partho Ghosh wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Last year, too, the state had infused at least Rs60 crore into the company by subscribing to 17.14 million new shares, paying Rs35 apiece, according to documents reviewed by Mint.

Earlier this year, BAPL issued shares to other stakeholders including Changi Airports International and Ghosh at the same price as the state government. Changi Airports International currently owns around 37% in the company.

The key problem with the airport built by BAPL in Durgapur is getting airlines to commence operations from it. Last year, state-owned Air India withdrew its Kolkata-Durgapur-Delhi flights, citing poor occupancy, after operating it for a little over a year. Currently, Zoom Air is the lone airline which connects Durgapur.

The project was conceived under the Left regime and built over 1,818 acres in the industrial belt of Asansol-Durgapur. The aim was to build urban infrastructure centred on an airport.

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