OST Business Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jan 10:
For all the eagerness of international airlines to add Bhubaneswar to their destination, the launch of international flights to and from the Bjiu Patnaik airport here could well be delayed as the Centre is yet to accord necessary approval for it.
Despite Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik taking up the matter with Union Civil Aviation minister Ajit Singh, the Centre is yet to respond to a proposal in this regard. This was revealed at a high level review meeting chaired by chief secretary JK Mohapatra on Thursday.
If the Civil Aviation ministry fails to approve the proposal by March this year, there is little possibility of international flights coming to Odisha for six month from April onwards, official sources said.
The meeting noted that apart from several overseas airliners, three private inland airliners have also sought permission since April last year to link 12 flights to Biju Patnaik airport following the reduction of VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and free parking by the state government.
Among them are Fly Dubai, which is interested to start direct flights from Dubai to Odisha and Air Arabia, which has applied for flights from Saudi Arab to Bhubaneswar. Silk Air, Singapore has also sought permission to start two flights—Singapore-Kolkata-
However, there has been no response from the Union Civil Aviation ministry that has been sitting over these proposals for over a month, the meeting revealed.
It was decided at the meeting that the state government would make a fresh request to the Centre for approval of the proposals of these overseas airliners.
The meeting also revealed that three private inland airliners— Indigo, Spice Jet and Go Air— have expressed their willingness to start four flights each from April 1 this year for picking up passengers from Bhubaneswar during their stopovers at the airport for refuelling.
The state government would take steps to grant permission to these airliners, the meeting decided.
Acquisition of additional land for Biju Patnaik International Airport and Jharsuguda airport was also discussed at the meeting.
The Regional director, Airport Authority of India (AAI) S Bhaduri requested the state government to provide Rs 25 crore in addition to Rs 50 crore already agreed to by the government earlier for the development of Jharsuguda airport.
He informed that of the estimated cost of Rs 150 crore, the state government would provide Rs 75 crore while the rest amount would be provided by the AAI.
The chief secretary, in his reply, said the state government would take necessary steps in this regard after a review.