The Maharashtra government’s Project Monitoring and Implementation Committee on Wednesday approved Indian conglomerate GVK’s bid to construct the Navi Mumbai International Airport, the Financial Express reported.

The panel, headed by the state’s Chief Secretary Sumit Malik, also recommended the bid to the Cabinet for its final nod. Once the Cabinet approves it, the nodal agency for airport development, City and Industrial Development Corporation or Cidco, will issue a letter of intent to GVK. This letter of intent is considered another crucial step in the process. It will be tabled at the Cabinet meeting on October 31, according to the Hindustan Times.

GVK beat GMR Airports, which constructed the Delhi airport, during bidding in February. The first phase of the Rs 16,000-crore project is likely to be completed by December 2019, Cidco has said.

Cidco will offer three plots of land in an auction in prime areas within a 15-km radius of the airport to hotel owners and developers, in an effort to attract global hoteliers. Two of the plots are off an arterial highway that links to the Mumbai-Pune Expressway, while a third land parcel is in Belapur.

The Maharashtra government sanctioned the project in 2007 but it got entangled in environmental concerns and land acquisition problems. Cidco has now set a May 2020 deadline to get the airport ready. But experts believe that the project may face a few more hurdles.

“The project is likely to see challenges in terms of funds. And keeping in mind the volatile nature of the aviation sector, a major surge in international crude prices would have an impact on the timeline,” an executive with an aviation think tank said.