The Adani Group has entered the airport business after winning bids to operate five of six airports that were designated for privatisation by the Centre, PTI reported. An unidentified Airports Authority of India official said the conglomerate has won the contracts to run the non-metro airports of Ahmedabad, Thiruvananthapuram, Lucknow, Mangaluru and Jaipur airports.

The official said the group was selected because it was the highest bidder in the “per-passenger fee” category.

The authority issued a statement that said the firm placed a bid of 177, Rs 174, Rs 171, Rs 168 and Rs 115 for airports at Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru, the news agency reported.

In the bid for the Thiruvananthapuram airport, the Kerala government enterprise Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation had bid Rs 165 against the Adani’s Rs 168, making it the second highest bidder in the process.

Meanwhile, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan raised doubts about the transparency of the allotment process, Malayala Manorama reported. “One business group winning all five bids is quite unusual,” the chief minister said at a public meeting. “It casts doubts on the bidding process itself. Was it [bidding] a drama to hand over the rights to Adani who is closer to Prime Minister? Adani might be knowing Modi well, but he has no experience in running airports.”

The company is yet to issue a statement on the matter.

The Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government in November 2018 had cleared a proposal to allow six Airports Authority of India facilities under a public-private partnership model. The initiative’s stated aim is to improve airport infrastructure.

The official said the conglomerate was selected on the basis of the “monthly per-passenger fee” and will be given control as soon as the formalities are completed. The authority is believed to have received 32 technical bids from 10 firms to operate the six airports.

The bid for the Guwahati airport will begin on Tuesday because a stay order from the Guwahati High Court had hindered the process, The Hindu reported.