Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has finally broken his silence and demanded the launch of international flights from Bhubaneswar soon. In his letter to Union Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapati Raju, the Odisha CM sought Bhubaneswar to be included in Draft Aviation Policy.
Although the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar had received the international status more than a year ago, barring some chartered flights, no international carriers have shown interest to start flight operations from the state.
The Odisha Government had already slashed VAT on Turbine or Jet fuel to five per cent in order too woo the international airliners. However, the Draft Aviation Policy formulated by the Aviation Ministry does not have a provision for International Airport at Bhubaneswar.
As per the draft, only six metropolitan airports of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore and Hyderabad would be developed as major international hubs and will serve as the main access points for international flights. India has at present 132 airports under the Airports Authority of India (AAI) out of which 46 are domestic and 15 are international airports.
Naveen argued that Odisha has spent a lot of funds in developing the Bhubaneswar Airport in order to be able to host international flights. And, being a vast country like India, only six international airports won’t be able to serve the purpose of the travellers and may lead to congestion and delay as well as increase in pollution level, he said. He also batted for Odisha’s case, saying the state is a leading manufacturing, commercial and tourist centre and cannot be ignored by the Aviation Ministry.