Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 3:
State-owned national carrier Air India will launch direct flights between Biju Patnaik Internataional Airport (BPIA) in Odisha capital and Lal Bahadur Shastri International Airport in Varanasi from Oct 8.
The carrier will operate four days a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.
As per schedule, the Air India flight (AI-419) would leave Varanasi at 12.30 pm and land at the Biju Patnaik International Airport at 2 pm. The return flight (AI-420) would leave for Varanasi at 2.45 pm from here and reach Varanasi at 4.15 pm.
Bookings for the 122-seater Airbus 319 has already started and the fares start from Rs 3,500 for one-way journey.
“Nearly 2 lakh tourists visit various Buddhist sites in Varanasi. More tourists from countries like Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Japan and China are coming to Varanasi. There are various Buddhist sites in Odisha too. Odisha has Lalitgiri, Ratnagiri, Khandagiri and Udaygiri where tourists would be interested to visit. It will definitely boost tourism activities in the state,” BPIA Director Sharad Kumar said.
“We would see how much passenger traffic we are getting. Based on the response, we would extend the schedule to seven days a week,” Kumar added.
The air linkage to Varanasi is expected to increase tourist footfall in the state.
“The state government and Air India should launch awareness campaigns in various platforms including social media. People would be interested to visit the tourist destinations in the state. This would help boost the sector,” a city-based tour operator said.
It may be mentioned that Air India would promote Odisha Tourism Development Corporation’s (OTDC) tour packages from within the country and abroad from December 1. For this, OTDC has entered into an agreement with the air carrier.
Bookings for the OTDC packages will be available at Air India’s website from December 1 this year.