Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jun 8:
Air Asia authorities today visited Biju Patnaik International Airport here to check its infrastructure and facilities and held discussion with Odisha Chief Secretary Gokul Chandra Pati and airport authorities to check the commercial viability of flight operations from here.
Speaking to the media after the meeting, Director of the Biju Patnaik Airport Sharad Kumar termed the meeting ‘very fruitful’ even though he did not give a definitive word on whether Air Asia would indeed start operations from Bhubaneswar.
Yesterday, airport authorities had said that Air Asia wants to use the airport for connecting to over 100 destinations, including some in Germany, Singapore, Malaysia, Japan and South Korea.
“We had a very good meeting with the Air Asia representatives, tour and travel operators and the Government authorities and deliberated upon the need for international operations from the airport. Air Asia is doing a potential study with many other airports to see where they can attract maximum traffic. They will start their operations from Bhubaneswar, if they manage to get the required traffic here. After all, it boils down to commercial viability. Any airline would do this to ensure that the routes remain profitable,” said Kumar.
“The state government is extending all possible support and we are doing our best. The Chief Secretary, the Principal Secretary of GA Department and the secretary of Tourism Department were present in the meeting and were very cooperative. They have agreed to waive the VAT from Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) for flights. This has already been very helpful in increasing the domestic frequencies to 20 flights a day from 11 -12 earlier,” he added.
It may be noted that Kumar had earlier written letters to 12 international airlines to start operations from Bhubaneswar. The airlines approached so far include Thai Airways, Spice Jet, Fly Dubai, Air India, Indigo, Air Arabia, Air Asia, Fly Singapore etc.
All of these airlines participated in the meeting held on May 19 with the Chief Secretary of Odisha in New Delhi. The State Government is working hard to start international flight operations from this airport before Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. It expects around five million visitors in the state for the upcoming Nabakalebara.
The airport has all required infrastructure for international air operations and terminal-2 of the airport has been specially equipped to handle international traffic.
The State Government is also offering free night patrolling and zero VAT on fuel to attract international operators. Besides, it is also ready to extend its support to set up ticket counters, immigration and custom facilities within two weeks, if DGCA approves international operations from the airport.