Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 12:
Former Minister and senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik today jumped on to the ongoing political slugfest between the BJP and BJD claiming that international air connectivity to Odisha was a contribution of the erstwhile UPA government.
Expressing surprise both at the opposition of the State Government and the ruling BJD to the facility of international air travel from Bhubaneswar and the ‘hype’ being created over it by the BJP, the Congress leader said; ” The new airport terminal is a contribution of the UPA Government. In fact, the plan to connect Bhubaneswar to the international circuit was conceived by the UPA Government. Despite creation of the logistics, the implementation has taken time, which in any case is a welcome development.”
The former PCC chief accused the ruling party of lacking ‘understanding’ of the structure of the airlines industry and trying to exploit the situation for petty political gains.
“Unfortunately the BJD uses every event to play victim hoping that the issue of central neglect can be kept alive and converted to votes at the hustings and unfortunately people may be falling prey to this tactic,” Patnaik said.
“The effort should now be to ask other airlines to follow Air India so that all passengers flying to international destination from or to Bhubaneswar can do their immigration check at Bhubaneswar and be transferred to the respective long haul flights in the international sector. Also, the facility of international transfer should be extended from Delhi to other hubs such as Mumbai and Kolkata,” he said advising the state Government to get away from silly politics and work to advance the interest of air passengers and the state.
The senior leader also justified the spoke and hub model which international air operations from the Biju Patnaik international airport in Bhubaneswar follows.
“Around the world, the aviation sector follows a spoke and hub model. Such a model firstlyprotects the domestic sector and secondly protects the interest of the country. If other countries do not agree to bilateral arrangement for allowing our ai lines to fly to their regional airports, why should India be extra generous under populist pressure? The air lines sector has suffered quite a bit in the last decade because of decisions taken for political purposes. The long haul flights between international hubs are much larger and it may not be commercially viable for any airline to send those large aircrafts for transferring 35 passengers to the international flights. UK does not allow our flights to land anywhere other than Heathrow, Germany does not allow any connection other than to Frankfurt, UAE does not allow any place other than Dubai and the Netherlands does not allow any airport other than Amsterdam. India should follow the spoke and hub model rather than end up damaging its domestic sector under populist political pressure,” Patnaik said in a statement today.