Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 28:
More than two years have elapsed since the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) in the Odisha capital got its international tag but international flights are yet to take-off from it.
Four airlines had committed to start international flights from BPIA from December, with just two days left for January to set in international flights are yet to begin operations from the facility.
While the Union Civil Aviation Ministry has kept the state government in a fool’s paradise, the state government has done nothing more than keeping its fingers crossed.
Notably, Silk Air had proposed for operating a direct flight to Singapore from Bhubaneswar beginning this December. Even a high level delegation of Silk Air had visited BPIA and after inspecting facilities had agreed to start international flights from December. The BPIA authorities made all preparations for the operations but the flight is yet to take-off.
Similarly, Air Asia which had gained fame for providing air travel at low cost had planned to operate an international flight from Bhubaneswar to Kuala Lumpur.
The airlines had announced to start flights from December 15 and even an A-320 was also selected for the purpose. The Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had also granted permission for the purpose.
Even Air Asia authorities had met the state chief secretary and BPIA director and had discussed on issues like where booking counters will be opened and what assistance will be provided by the state government.
However, while December is about to end there is no information from Air Asia authorities.
Not only these two airlines, Union Civil Aviation Minister Mahesh Sharma announced in Bhubaneswar that the people of Odisha will not have to wait for long for international flights since Air India, the national carrier will fly for Dubai from Bhubaneswar.
Everything changed on his return to Delhi; Air India authorities announced that international service from Bhubaneswar cannot be started at the present.
As a lollipop for the people of Odisha travelling abroad a flight service in the hub and spoke model was started from BPIA. The airport has to remain content with this international service.
Even Tourism Minister Ashok Panda had a year back announced that Indigo Airlines will very soon operate a flight to Bangkok but it’s yet to happen. The airline authorities have said since they are operating flights to Bangkok from Kolkata they have not taken any decision to start flights for Bangkok from Bhubaneswar.
Besides, Fly Dubai had decided to start flights to Dubai from Bhubaneswar; it’s not getting permission from the DGCA.
“There are no plans to start any flights this December. Those airlines service operators had planned flights from here are no more in touch. Since these operators had problems in buying aircrafts, there is delay in them starting international flights,” said Sharad Kumar director BPIA.
It is worthwhile to mention here that the Union Civil Aviation Minister in reply to a query in the Lok Sabha has said that since there is not enough passenger traffic as per expectations from Bhubaneswar for abroad, international flight operators are not willing to provide the service.