Airports Authority of India (AAI) has announced its plan to develop airports in other countries, similar to private entities GVK or GMR.

The state-run AAI will develop an airport in Palaly Airport of Sri Lanka. This would be AAI’s first project in Sri Lanka.

An AAI official told Press Trust of India that this move comes as “we are trying to get engaged with our neighbours.”

The AAI has signed an agreement with Indian External Affairs Ministry to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) on the development of Palaly Airport, which is located in the northern part of the island nation.

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This area is strategically important for India as Palaly is located in Jaffna, which is a Tamil territory.

“The airport will be Sri Lanka’s first in the north, give the northern people direct connectivity with places like South India, Malaysia, and Thailand.”

The technical and design aspects of the project will feature in the DPR, which is slated to be completed before December.

The AAI has developed over 60 airports in India and it plans to leverage its experience in developing airports to other countries on a bigger scale.

AAI currently manages over 120 airports across India.

A person with knowledge on the matter told The Economic Times: “India had earlier promised to develop Palaly airport which has been a demand by the northern province for some time.

“The airport will be Sri Lanka’s first in the north, give the northern people direct connectivity with places like South India, Malaysia, and Thailand.

“India has also offered to develop the Kankesanthurai airport also in the north, as well as the Mattala international airport in south Sri  Lanka, abutting the Chinese developed Hambantota port.”