Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/New Delhi, Jun 27:
The long wait is over. The dreams of the people of Odisha are going to take flight soon when the first international flight is going to touch down on the Biju Patnaik International Airport here.
State-owned international carrier Air India (AI) is all set to start international flight operations from Odisha’s capital city to Dubai before July 10, apparently to facilitate tourist arrivals for the Rath Yatra on July 18 in this Nabakalebara year.
Sources privy to the development said Air India has officially conveyed its approval for operating its flight from here to Dubai via Hyderabad.
The AI decision to add Bhubaneswar to the list of international destinations was conveyed to Union Minister for Petroleum & Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan by Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, Dr. Mahesh Sharma during a meeting between the two today to discuss preparations for the mega festival, the sources said. Pradhan thanked Sharma for the gesture, the sources added.
Despite getting international airport status, international carriers had not shown much interest in commencing air operations from the Biju Patnaik International Airport here.
In a bid to attract international carriers to the Temple City, the Odisha government had first reduced to 5% and then completely waived VAT on aviation turbine fuel (ATF).
Earlier this month, chief secretary GC Pati met representatives of eight international carriers in a bid to persuade them to start flights to Bhubaneswar. Not much came out of the meeting except for a few inquiries followed by a visit to the Biju Patnaik Airport by Air Asia.
But today’s development is bound to cheer air travellers from and to Odisha.