Aviation Services Provider Celebi India May Invest Around USD 80 Million In Next Four Years

TaxiBot was introduced in 2019 at Delhi and Bangalore airports by Celebi in partnership with KSU Aviation. They plan to expand to Chennai airport.
Aviation Services Provider Celebi India May Invest Around USD 80 Million In Next Four Years

Aviation services provider Celebi India may invest around USD 80 million in the business in the next four years as it eyes more airports besides enhancing cargo capacity, a top company executive has said.

The company, which offers ground handling services and cargo operations, also plans to switch to an all-electric fleet across the airports it renders services at present, according to Murali Ramachandran, President for India & S-E Asia at Celebi Aviation Holdings, said.

The company currently has the mandate to provide ground handling services at nine airports -- Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Cochin, Ahmedabad, Mopa (Goa) and Kannur -- and handle cargo operations at Delhi airport through a joint venture with Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL).

"Celebi has already invested around USD 250 million (since its entry in the Indian market in 2007). In terms of expected investment, we will be adding USD 28 million in ground handling in the next four years. Around USD 30 million are likely to be invested in cargo business.

"And if taxiBot (business) picks up, we are willing to put in another USD 20 million (in it)," Ramachandran told PTI.

TaxiBot, a semi-robotic equipment, is used to tow the aircraft from the airport terminal gate to the taxi-out point and to tow aircraft from terminal gate after landing (taxi-in phase) without utilising the aircraft's engine.

TaxiBot was introduced in India in 2019 at Delhi airport by the company in partnership with KSU Aviation. Currently, Celebi provides TaxiBot services at Delhi and Bangalore airports and also plans to launch it at the Chennai airport.

Ramachandran said the company is eyeing ground handling business at the upcoming Jewar airport in Noida and Navi Mumbai airport while it is also keen to participate in the tender process for similar business at Kolkata airport as it would be meaningful for the company to look at.

"So, from an organic airport wise growth, this is immediately under our radar," he stated.

Noting that flight handling growth will depend on organic growth of foreign carriers as well as new slots and routes being accorded, he said, "we are also keeping a close watch on AIASL divestment and would be keen to bid."

Celebi expects domestic growth at around 12-15 per cent from current levels due to capacity being grounded.

"We expect to be handling 1,50,000 flights in the next four years," he said, adding that the company is exploring the possibility of providing Bridge Mounted Equipment (BME) at more airports.

According to him, the future investment by the company will be purely electric with Li-ion batteries, with existing equipment being converted to electric with LI-ion, and 100 per cent towable units will be electric by end of 2025.

He said that the company is already plying e-buses for ferrying passengers at Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai airports, and added that it has also signed an agreement with Hyderabad airport to provide electric charging infrastructure for the airport.

"So, all our buses will be electric by next year," Ramachandran said.

Investment in TaxiBot is purely from a green development perspective, he added.

The cargo business, he said, is likely to log an overall 6-7 per cent annual growth in tonnage in next four years.

In cargo, the investment would go into warehousing and in expanding domestic cargo handling facility, he said and added that Celebi will continue to look at new markets in India where it can bring in its expertise in warehouse handling.

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