Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Jul 10:
Union Tribal Affairs minister Jual Oram flagged off the much-awaited international flight that took off from the Biju Patnaik International Airport in the Odisha capital on a rainy afternoon today.
Flight AI-078 took off from Terminal II for New Delhi at 14.30 hours carrying 163 passengers of whom 37 were overseas passengers to Dubai, Tokyo, Singapore, London, Abu Dhabi, New York and New Jersey.
The overseas passengers would board the flight to Dubai for their respective destination after their arrival in New Delhi.
AI 078 was actually the same flight AI-873, which arrived from New Delhi at Terminal 1 at 13.20 hours, and then left for New Delhi after being renamed.
Among others, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas minister Dharmendra Pradhan, officials of the Airport Authority of India (AAI) including Director, Eastern Range, Satyasudha Bhaduri, Director of Biju Patnaik International Airport, Sharad Kumar and senior officials of the Odisha government were present on the occasion.
However, chief minister Naveen Patnaik did not attend the function as scheduled. In his place, MP Prasanna Patsani was present on the occasion.
The chief minister skipped the programme in protest against the Centre’s denial of proper international flights from the airport which got international airport status back in October 2013, relaible sources said.
“We have been making efforts to provide all possible facilities to the passengers. Those, who are willing to fly as overseas passengers, need not undergo checking of their customs and immigration in New Delhi again as these formalities would be done here from now on,” said Sharad Kumar, director, Biju Patnaik International Airport.
As per the schedule, the AI-078 international flight would leave Bhubaneswar everyday at 2 PM and arrive in New Delhi from where the overseas passengers would board another flight to Dubai at 8.30 PM. On the next day, the international flight would arrive in New Delhi at 4.50 AM from where it would leave for Bhubaneswar as AI-077 at7.05 AM and arrive in the state capital at 9 AM.