Odisha Govt Invites ‘RFQ’ For Direct Flights To Dubai, Singapore & Bangkok

Bhubaneswar: Enthused by people’s growing appetite to travel abroad amid a decline in COVID cases, the Odisha government is planning to engage with air operators to start direct flights connecting Bhubaneswar with Bangkok, Singapore, and Dubai.

The Odisha Commerce and Transport Department has invited “Request for Quotation” or “RFQ” from reputed international airlines based on a model where the state government bears the entire operational cost of the flights.

Odisha is looking for three flights a week, preferably on alternate days including the weekends, from Bhubaneswar to international destinations like Dubai, Singapore & Bangkok. “However, the selected airline may operate on the remaining days of the week without any financial support from the government,” the official notification said.

It further added: “There is a potential of unlocking not only tourism sector, but also general Industrial sector including that of IT sector, if Bhubaneswar can have direct connectivity with Dubai in west, Singapore and Bangkok in East. Dubai and Singapore being 2 large air hubs, virtually opening up the entire world to the passengers of Odisha and also to people of Odisha origin settled abroad,”

The prospective bidders were also informed about Value Added Tax (VAT) on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF) being reduced to zero (0) per cent for direct international flights.

Operations under the proposal will be permitted through fixed-wing aircraft only with a passenger seating capacity of 70 or more. The selected airlines will have to commence flight operations within a period of 60 days from the issuance of the letter of award unless an extension is granted. The last date for submission of proposals is November 28.

Notably, AirAsia which introduced direct flights between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur in 2017 suspended it after the COVID pandemic struck. Its flight operation between Bhubaneswar and Bangkok was discontinued in 2019 after a year. The direct flights between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur operated four times a week whereas the Bhubaneswar-Bangkok flew thrice.

On June 29, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced that direct flights would be operated between Dubai and Bhubaneswar soon while addressing the Odia diaspora in Dubai. VK Pandian, the chief minister’s private secretary, then said that the Odisha government has already proceeded with a viability gap funding (VGF) plan for the direct flight services.

Nearly one lakh people of Odisha live in the United Arab Emirates. Direct air connectivity between Dubai and Bhubaneswar has been their long-pending demand.

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