Bhubaneswar: With the 2019 elections in full swing, the air traffic in the city airport has reported a phenomenal increase in non scheduled flights owing to election campaigns done by different political parties.
Sources at Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) said that the airport has recorded a staggering 129% growth in non-scheduled flight movements in February compared to last year while 70.3% increase was also observed in March when the Model Code of Conduct came into force.
“Non scheduled flights movements at the BPIA have shown certain increase in last few months. While in February there were 333 flights arriving and departing the airport, 267 were recorded in the month of March. Comparing to last year only 145 movements were observed in February, March reported only 155,” a source at the BPIA said.
Provided by private flight operators, non scheduled flights generally offer unscheduled air transport services of passengers or goods at an hourly or per kilometer charge for chartering the entire aircraft along with the crew. While the recorded figures also include flights by private individuals, the numbers mostly comprised of flights taken by members of major political parties of Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and Biju Janta Dal (BJD) for election campaigning across the state.
“Considering time and distance as crucial factors, political parties are inclined to take the aerial route for reaching out to as many people in lesser time. With the BPIA becoming an internationally recognised airport, leaders are opting for private charters or helicopters to travel vis-a- vis Bhubaneswar to promote their election campaigns,” said Bibhuti Bhusan a political analyst here.
Till date, April alone has already recorded 171 of these non scheduled flights. Sources have also said that these non-scheduled flight movements are expected to even rise further as the elections in the state enters into campaigning for third and fourth (final) phase.
This can be confirmed from the fact that while Prime Minister Narendra Modi has just visited Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar, BJP president Amit Shah also held campaign meetings at Dhenkanal and Badamaba.