Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 11:
AirAsia will launch the first direct international flight from the Biju Patnaik International Airport, the lone airport in Odisha, to Kuala Lumpur by December this year.
The Odisha government had been in talks with the Malaysian budget carrier to start direct flight operations between Bhubaneswar and top cities of Southeast Asia since a long time now.
As per information provided by airport authorities, a delegation of AirAsia recently visited Biju Patnaik International airport and took stock of the infrastructure and traffic potential of the airport. Besides, they held discussion with Chief Secretary Gokul Chandra Pati and airport authorities to negotiate specific terms.
“We are trying to get direct connectivity to Southeast Asian cities, including Bangkok. AirAsia is very much interested in that. I hope the deal to be sealed within next few weeks,” said an Airport official.
“I am confident about the potential of India for AirAsia and the airline is planning to connect four more cities from Kuala Lumpur, namely Coimbatore, Madurai, Delhi and Bhubaneswar. We will start Delhi and Bhubaneswar this year, while Madurai and Coimbatore are scheduled for 2016 launch,”said AirAsia CEO Tony Fernandes while launching AirAsia’s latest route, Kuala Lumpur-Goa recently.
AirAsia India, which posted a net loss of Rs 44.15 crore, will be profitable from December onwards, he predicted to support the expanding destinations.
“When you start an airline, your’re not going to make money in the first year. So we are prepared to incur losses. Now we are confident of making profit in December and 2016 is also going to be a good year for us,” he said when asked about AirAsia’s unit in India while speaking at the launch event.
The company started its India operations in June last year and registered revenue of Rs 115 crore for the three months ending June 30, 2015. The airline flew over 300,000 passengers in the quarter. The total number of cities in India that would be connected directly from Kuala Lumpur by the airline would be 12.
It may be mentioned that Air India recently started its international flight operation from the airport via New Delhi on the eve of Nabakalebara of Lord Jagannath. So far, Air India is the only international carrier operating from the airport.