Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 14:
The Centre has assured Odisha that the Bhubneswar-Port Blair Air India flight will be extended to Phuket in Thailand.
“The extension of AI flight to Phuket would be made in the first phase while steps would be taken for its further extension to other South Asian countries,” Union Civil Aviation minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju told state Tourism and Culture minister Ashok Panda and secretary of the concerned department Arabinda Padhee at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here on his way to cyclone-ravaged Vishakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh on Monday.
The assurance of the Union minister came following a request made by the Odisha minister and Padhee on the introduction of flights to South Asian and South East Asian countries to attract more Buddhist tourists and scholars to Odisha.
Apart from this, Raju also assured that the Centre would provide all assistance for development of tourism infrastructure in Odisha.
He said several overseas private airlines companies have proposed to the Centre operation of low cost flight services for the Buddhist tourists of Thailand, Japan, Malaysia and Sri Landa to India.
Replying to the request of the Odisha minister for introduction of Delhi-Bodhagaya-Varanasi flight from Bhubaneswar, Raju said he would consider it.
He, however, proposed introduction of Pawan Hans helicopter services for the tourists in Odisha in line with Uttrakhand, Jammu and Kashmir and West Bengal, which, he said, would be a viable medium to provide low cost flight services to the inland and overseas tourists.
Among other things, construction of a parallel runway at the Biju Patnaik International Airport and construction of a cargo hub at the airport was also discussed at the meeting.
Among others, director of Biju Patnaik International Airport Sharad Kumar was present at the meeting.