Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday urged the Centre to start a direct flight from the state capital to Dubai given the traffic potential between these two places.
Earlier too, the CM had drawn the Civil Aviation Ministry’s attention to the need to connect Bhubaneswar’s Biju Patnaik International Airport to more cities in view of the steady growth in air travel. But have the requests been accepted? Here’s a reality check:
1. Bhubaneswar-Pune flight:
In February 2018, the Odisha CM had requested the then Civil Aviation Minister, Ashok Gajapathi Raju, to start a new service between Bhubaneswar and Pune. He said direct air connectivity would prove a boon for the growing number of travelers between these two cities due to the flourishing IT sector and educational institutes.
It’s been over two years since the request was made, but no airline has evinced interest to start a service between Bhubaneswar and Pune till now. In an interview to Odisha Bytes earlier, director of Bhubaneswar Airport S C Hota had informed that they have reached out to a private operator for a flight to Pune with a proposed schedule. There has been no response so far.
2. Bhubaneswar-Surat flight:
In August 2018, the CM had written to the then Civil Aviation Minister, Suresh Prabhu, for a direct flight between Bhubaneswar and Surat for the benefit of thousands of Odias who reside in that Gujarat city and their families.
The city is still deprived of getting a direct flight to Surat. The other flight operated between Bhubaneswar and Ahmedabad by Indigo has also been withdrawn.
3. Varanasi-Colombo flight via Bhubaneswar:
In May 2017, the CM had sought the inclusion of Bhubaneswar in Air India’s Varanasi-Colombo circuit. He had also drawn attention to a Buddhist conclave where academicians and monks from Sri Lanka had expressed keen desire to visit Odisha and explore the Buddhist heritage sites.
Leave alone acceding to the state’s request, the Centre withdrew an Air India flight between Bhubaneswar and Varanasi two years back. It is yet to be restored.
Insiders in the aviation sector have argued that capacity constraint in major aviation hubs is coming in the way of introducing new services from these places to Bhubaneswar. But unavailability of slots has not stopped airlines from announcing new services from cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata and New Delhi. Is it then a case of apathy towards Odisha?