By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 22, 2020: As many as 14 new flights are planned to several national and international destinations. Most of the flights are scheduled to operate between January to the summer of 2020.

The planned destinations are Kolkata-Jharsuguda, Bhubaneswar-Varanasi, Varanasi-Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda-Mumbai, Prayagraj-Bhubaneswar, Delhi-Bhubaneswar, Bhubaneswar-Rourkela, Bhubaneswar-Kalaikunda, Bhubaneswar-Bangkok, Bangkok- Bhubaneswar, Singapore-Bhubaneswar, Bhubaneswar-Abu Dhabi.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik chaired a high level meeting here on ‘Enhancing Air Connectivity for Odisha’. The meeting witnessed international and domestic air carriers deliberating the silhouettes of augmenting international air connectivity in the state. Twenty one companies including 10 international operators participated in the conference.

Ironically, the Biju Patnaik international airport has limited global connectivity with only AirAsia running international flights to and from the airport. “In last few years, the aviation traffic in Odisha has seen immense growth. Though the domestic flight connectivity has seen a noticeable improvement, there is greater scope for international connectivity”, Patnaik remarked.

Both the Centre and the state government appear to have warmed up to the prospects of international air connectivity from Bhubaneswar. “The cumulative growth rate of Bhubaneswar airport is 29 per cent over the past five years, higher than the nationwide average of 17 per cent. This is one of the highest growth rates anywhere in the country. I feel that most of the airlines will come forward and start their flights from Bhubaneswar. Alliance Air is going to start flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Varanasi from January 31 this year. We are also keen to offer flight connectivity to interior parts of Odisha where commercial viability is the concern.” Pradeep Singh Kharola, secretary, Ministry of Civil aviation said,

“The emergence of globe trotting middle-class has also resulted in rising overseas travel. Hence, introduction of more international flights from Bhubaneswar to the destinations like Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, SriLanka, Hong Kong, and Bangkok will provide convenience and comfort to the people of the state”, he added.

Usha Padhee, joint secretary, Ministry of civil aviation said, “We have discussed with airline companies to start flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Bangkok, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. The airstrips at Rourkela, Utkela and Jeypore are also being geared up for flight operations under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme. We have suggested to the Odisha government to come out with a dedicated policy for civil aviation wherein they can offer a mix of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives to the air carriers besides offering initial hand holding assistance”.

Speaking on the occasion, P K Meherda, secretary (commerce & transport), Odisha government said, “Bhubaneswar airport served 300,000 passengers each in November and December 2019. As of now, we are offering fixed VGF (Viability Gap Funding) for international air operations. We are ready to provide variable VGF. Odisha has already announced zero VAT (Value Added Tax) for international flights and one per cent for domestic operators”.

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