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ICRA predicts Indian airport operators to witness revenue growth of 15-17 per cent in FY 2025

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New Delhi, May 16 (IANS) Overall air passenger traffic is likely to witness healthy growth of around 8-11 per cent YoY (year-over-year) to around 407-418 million in FY2025, supported by a strong pick-up in both leisure and business travel, along with improved connectivity to newer destinations in the domestic segment and the continued uptick in international travel, according to a recent report by ICRA, a leading credit rating agency.

The ICRA said that passenger traffic had already reached 376.4 million (+15 per cent YoY) in FY 2024, surpassing the pre-Covid level by 10 per cent.

The revenues of ICRA’s sample set are likely to grow by around 15-17 per cent YoY in FY 2025.

Giving more insights,Vinay Kumar G, Vice President and Sector Head, Corporate Ratings, ICRA, said: “The recovery in the Indian airport passenger traffic is one of the best compared to other major global counterparts. India accounted for 4.2 per cent of the global passenger traffic in CY 2023, and its share in passenger traffic has improved from 3.8 per cent in CY 2019.

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“While the global passenger traffic recovered to just 96 per cent of global passenger traffic in CY 2023, the Indian airport passenger traffic revived to 106 per cent of the pre-Covid level owing to strong economic growth as well as the addition of new airport routes. The Indian air passenger traffic is expected to outperform the global trend,” he said.

As per ICRA report, the airport operators, regulators and other stakeholders have made significant progress in resolving the long-pending issues, viz., cost of equity, return on security deposits, forex losses, and treatment of real estate income.

“Also, variation in the amount of capex proposed by the operator and disallowed by the regulator had declined significantly to around 10 per cent during the third control period (CP) from 25-30 percent during the first two CPs,” it said.

Commenting on the airport operators’ performance, Kumar said that the revenues of ICRA’s sample set are likely to grow by around 15-17 per cent YoY in FY2025, driven by the sustained improvement in both domestic and international passenger traffic, increase in tariffs at some of the major airports and ramp-up in non-aeronautical revenues.

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“With healthy profitability margins, the debt coverage metrics are expected to remain comfortable, despite higher interest outgo and debt repayments with the commercialisation of the capex programme at some of the key airports. The credit profile of airport operators is projected to remain strong, supported by healthy accruals and comfortable liquidity,” said Kumar.

–IANS

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India’s Digital Skill Hub to go global as ILO inks pact

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) The National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) under the aegis of the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship and the International Labour Organization (ILO) on Tuesday announced a strategic partnership to advance skill development and lifelong learning in India and globally.

This collaboration aims to empower individuals across the globe, by equipping them with essential competencies and qualifications, thereby enhancing employability and sustainable economic growth.

The MoU was signed by Ved Mani Tiwari, CEO, NSDC and Sangheon Lee, Director of ILO’s Employment Policy.

“A key aspect of the partnership is the implementation of the Skill India Digital Hub (SIDH). This digital transformation will streamline skill development initiatives, enhancing their efficiency, accessibility, and global impact,” said Atul Kumar Tiwari, Secretary, the Ministry of Skill Development & Entrepreneurship (MSDE).

He said that workers’ and employers’ organisations in ILO’s member countries would be able to use SIDH to digitise systems, processes, skills delivery, and job matching, based on a cost-effective model.

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Tiwari also said that by combining ILO’s expertise with MSDE’s commitment to skilling, reskilling, and upskilling, the aim is to empower individuals to navigate disruptions and create a sustainable future.

The partnership aims to facilitate public-private partnerships and knowledge exchange to enhance Sector Skill Councils, develop micro-credentials, and promote Recognition of Prior Learning through a global knowledge-sharing platform. By strengthening the comparability of skills and qualifications, digital tools will be developed and deployed to assess and compare the skills and qualifications of Indian workers with those required in potential destination countries, improving mobility and global employability prospects for Indian workers.

Speaking on the partnership, Ved Mani Tiwari said that the MoU between ILO and NSDC will help build a pool of Indian youth for global opportunities as the partnership aims to align and benchmark Indian qualifications with global skills standards.

Tiwari also said that India is becoming a preferred destination for GCCs, opening opportunities for Indian youth to participate in remotely delivered knowledge work for the whole world.

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Sangheon Lee said that combining NSDC technological capacity and ILO standard-setting functions, tripartism and global reach has the potential to significantly improve training access and quality globally.

Promoting quality apprenticeships, work-based learning for employability and productivity, and the development of sustainable enterprises will be a cornerstone of this collaboration, he added.

–IANS

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PRAVAAH portal, RBI Retail Direct Mobile Application and FinTech Repository launched for ease of biz

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Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) RBI Governor Shaktikanta Das on Tuesday launched three major initiatives of the Reserve Bank of India which include the PRAVAAH portal, the Retail Direct Mobile App and a FinTech Repository.

The PRAVAAH portal will make it convenient for any individual or entity to apply online for various regulatory approvals in a seamless manner. This portal will also enhance the efficiency of various processes related to the granting of regulatory approvals and clearances by the Reserve Bank, according to an RBI statement.

The Retail Direct Mobile App will provide retail investors seamless and convenient access to the retail direct platform and provide ease of transacting in government securities (G-Secs).

With the launch of the retail direct mobile app, retail investors can now transact in G-Secs using the mobile app on their smartphones. The mobile app can be downloaded from the Play Store for Android users and App Store for iOS users. The mobile app can also be downloaded using the following QR code.

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The Fintech Repository will contain information on the detailed repository of data on Indian FinTech firms for a better understanding of the sector from a regulatory perspective and facilitate in designing appropriate policy approaches.

These three initiatives were earlier announced as part of RBI’s bi-monthly Statement on Development and Regulatory Policies in April 2023, April 2024 and December 2023 respectively.

–IANS

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Nifty likely to hit 26,500 in next 18 months: Report

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Mumbai, May 28 (IANS) The Nifty can touch 26,500 levels in the next 18 months. brokerage firm Emkay Global Financial Services said in a report on Tuesday.

Emkay Global expects the Nifty to reach 24,500 by December 2024 and further scale up to surpass the 26,500 levels by December 2025.

According to the report, in the immediate near term, the markets are going to focus on Lok Sabha election results. An expected return of the NDA regime with a base case scenario of 330 seats will result in policy continuity along with major reforms that will support the positive sentiment in the Indian markets.

The brokerage firm also advised having a multi-cap approach with equal proposition in largecaps and midcaps to take advantage of the broad-based growth in the Indian equity markets.

Sharing views on the sectors, Manish Sonthalia, Chief Investment Officer, Emkay Investment Managers Ltd. (the portfolio management services arm of Emkay Global Financial Services), said, “BFSI, PSUs, and industrials are expected to do well. BFSI has led the earnings growth and seen a correction in valuation. Investment-related themes will come into play with power capex building up in the next three to five years.”

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“We are re-rating public sector units as some of the government entities will have an advantage in sectors such as defence, oil marketing companies, and power finances,” he added.

–IANS

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Google introduces new AI features in its Chromebook Plus laptops

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Google on Tuesday announced new artificial intelligence (AI)-powered features in its Chromebook Plus laptops that will help users chat with Gemini, reimagine photos and more.

The Chromebook Plus devices come with more AI capabilities built-in, including industry-leading security, Google apps and longer battery life, starting at only $350.

The ‘help me write’ feature will help you generate text from scratch using a prompt or you can rewrite your existing text to make what you wrote more formal, shorter, or rephrase it altogether.

“Generative AI wallpaper and video call backgrounds built into the OS will help you dream up new worlds on your Chromebook Plus — no matter what video conferencing app you’re using,” the company informed.

The ‘Magic Editor feature on Google Photos’ is also coming to laptops, exclusively on Chromebook Plus.

“Tap or circle the object you want to edit, hold and drag to reposition, or pinch to resize them. You can also use contextual suggestions to improve the lighting and background, reimagining your photo with a few easy clicks,” said Google.

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The company said it is offering the Google One AI Premium plan at no cost to new Chromebook Plus users for 12 months.

The plan includes access to Gemini Advanced, 2TB of storage and Gemini in Docs, Sheets, Slides, Gmail and more.

If you have a Chromebook, you’ll get many of these features through an automatic update over the next week or so.

For those looking for a new laptop, newest Chromebooks are available from HP, Acer and ASUS, the company informed.

–IANS

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Govt fine-tuning new strategy on free trade pacts

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New Delhi, May 28 (IANS) Ministry of Commerce and Industry has chalked out a new strategy for negotiations in Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) which will lay greater emphasis on economic assessment and modelling of FTAs, services and digital trade in FTAs, and leverage India’s FTAs to address emerging areas like AI and critical minerals.

Commerce Secretary Sunil Barthwal spearheaded a two-day brainstorming session recently to chart a strategic course for India’s future engagement in FTA negotiations.

The “Chintan Shivir” drew the active participation of senior government officials involved in India’s FTA negotiations from various ministries and departments. Presentations at the event were made by former senior officials, esteemed national and international experts in FTA negotiations, venerable academicians, and seasoned legal professionals, according to a commerce ministry statement issued on Tuesday.

The Chintan Shivir unfolded across six dynamic sessions and one roundtable, each delving into critical themes: Economic Assessment and Modelling of FTAs; (2) Addressing New Disciplines into FTAs such as Labour, Environment, Gender, Indigenous Peoples, etc.; (3) Services and Digital Trade in FTAs; (4) Standard Operating Procedures for FTA Negotiations including Stakeholder Consultations; (5) Capacity Building and FTA resource management; and Leveraging India’s FTAs to address emerging areas such as supply chain disruptions, Critical Minerals, Artificial Intelligence, the official statement said.

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The participants also discussed how negotiating investment and trade together can create synergies and the need for careful consideration of trade policy and industrial policy together.

The need for Indian FTAs to be driven by balancing geopolitics and geoeconomics, and focused on how regional trade agreements should complement global trade agreements), with regional aspirations stemming from multilateral efforts.

The roundtable also identified that FTAs should foster value chain development, and the importance of integrating non-trade issues (e.g., Trade and Sustainable Development – TSD) crucial for market access.

The roundtable highlighted that effective stakeholder consultations ensure realistic and attainable goals and a balanced approach to trade and industrial policies can optimise trade negotiations and outcomes.

–IANS

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