Bhubaneswar: The state government Wednesday announced intention to operate at least 14 flights to various national and international destinations.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urged top airline operators to improve air connectivity to Odisha during a meeting of aviation officers and Chief Executive officers (CEOs).
The high-level meeting had more than 25 CEOs of different airlines wherein the Chief Minister recounted the growth story of Odisha, presence of techno-savvy diaspora in different countries, and growth of tourism in several sectoral economies. The Chief Minister asked the Civil Aviation Ministry and the airline operators to introduce flights for domestic as well as international destinations from Odisha.
“Odisha has witnessed rapid growth over the years and made its foothold strong in many areas including mining, manufacturing, tourism, culture, sports, education and IT. In the last few years, the aviation traffic in Odisha has seen enormous growth. Though domestic flight connectivity has seen a noticeable improvement, there is greater scope for international connectivity,” Patnaik said.
Admitting that there is no direct flight to important cities like Jaipur, Pune, Kochi, Varanasi, Allahabad, and North Eastern states, he said flights to planned destinations included Kolkata-Jharsuguda, Bhubaneswar-Varanasi, Varanasi-Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda-Mumbai, Prayagraj-Bhubaneswar, Delhi-Bhubaneswar, Bhubaneswar-Rourkela and Bhubaneswar-Kalaikunda.
While a direct flight between Surat-Bhubaneswar was recently launched, the Bhubaneswar-Varanasi operations are expected to begin January 31. Meanwhile, it was scheduled to commence Bhubaneswar-Allahabad flight July 21.
Furthermore, international air-connectivity expansions between Bhubaneswar-Bangkok, Bangkok-Bhubaneswar, Singapore-Bhubaneswar and Bhubaneswar-Abu Dhabi are being considered. While most of the flights are scheduled to operate anywhere between January and Summer 2020, air operators Indigo, Air Asia, Alliance Air and Spice Jet have been roped in to enhance operations.
Indicating the aviation potential of Odisha, Secretary of Ministry of Civil Aviation PS Kharola said aviation is the new engine of economic growth. He pointed out that there is only 17 per cent growth in aviation nationally; Bhubaneswar has seen 29 per cent cumulative growth.
Meanwhile, addressing reporters, Chief Secretary Asit Tripathy said, “In a bid to boost air connectivity and attract more flight operatora we have decided to exempt VAT (Value Added Tax) on fuel for international flights.”
Although no infrastructure demands for the BPIA and Jharsuguda airport were discussed, Joint Secretary of Civil Aviation Usha Padhi made a presentation on UDAN scheme and said Bhubaneswar will be provided viability gap funding under UDAN.