Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Dec 11:
Talks between the Government of Odisha and private airlines operators such as Air Odisha and Air Deccan to start flight operation from four airstrips in the state – Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Rourkela and Jeypore – have failed to yield any result.
The Odisha government is keen on starting intra-state operations from these airstrips, which are proposed to be developed into full fledged airport in the next few years. Both Air Odisha and Air Deccan have evinced interest and are offering two nine-seater planes for these operations. However, the technical issues and expectations of the two airlines on the subsidy component have ensured that flight operations to these places remain a non-starter.
A meeting was held on Wednesday between Nitin Chandra, secretary, general administration department of Odisha government, senior executives of IDCO, Industries department and representatives from both the airlines to discuss infrastructure related issues, the terms the government is ready to offer and the demand of the operators. However, the meeting failed to agree on a common framework.
While the government has agreed to the demand of the operators to provide services like security, ambulance and fire safety, the issue of subsidy remains a bone of contention.
While only one the two airlines is to be chosen, both of them are expecting the government to provide them with subsidies. While Air Odisha expects subsidies for four seats, Air Deccan expects subsidies for six. But, given their respective pricing structures, the subsidy adds up to almost the same amount for both the operators.
It may be mentioned here that Air Odisha used to operate flights between Bhubaneswar and Jharsuguda earlier, but stopped services on this route citing lack of passengers. It is now expecting the government to provide subsidy for a few vacant seats to resume operations.
There are indications that the government could agree to allow the operator asking for lesser subsidy in the coming days.