Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, May 1:
In an effort to persuade international airlines to start air services from and to the Biju Patnaik International Airport, the Odisha government has decided to waive the value added tax (VAT) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
The state government had earlier reduced the VAT on ATF from 20 percent to 5 percent.
Though the airport has witnessed substantial growth in the number of passengers, which has crossed 15 lakh, it is yet to begin international operations even 18 months after getting the status of an international airport.
Talking to the media today, director of Biju Patnaik International Airport Sharad Kumar said the chief secretary, in a recent meeting, had asked the airport authority not to charge VAT on ATF of any international airlines. ‘This is indeed an encouraging step,” he said.
Following the decision of the state government, Air India has expressed its willingness to extend the services of its Bhubaneswar-Mumbai flight to Dubai. Besides, talks are on for extension of services of Bhubaneswar-Kolkata Indigo flight to Bangkok, Kkumar said.
“Besides, the airport authorities are in talks with Jet Airways to launch international operations from the Biju Patnaik International Airport,” he said, adding that the ABC Airways has agreed to commence operations of its Fly Easy flights connecting Bhubaneswar and Bengaluru from June.
The Tours and Travels Association has also welcomed the decision of the state government in this regard.
“The decision of the state government will motivate the international airlines to operate their flights from Bhubaneswar. With the world-famous Nabakelabara festival in Puri scheduled in June, we expect a massive football of foreign tourists to Odisha as the state government has opened the door for the international airlines,” said Benjamin Simon, chairman, Tours and Travels Association.
It may be mentioned that Biju Patnaik airport was accorded international status on October 30, 2013. At present the 20 airlines are operating their flights from the airport to seven destinations in the country.