Odisha Govt’s plans for air service to more foreign destinations likely to face hurdles

State

BHUBANESWAR, DEC 5

With little scope to relax the norm relating to bilateral rights for foreign airlines, the Odisha Government’s plan to connect Bhubaneswar with Colombo, Singapore and Dubai will face hurdle, feel senior officials.

Odisha and several other state governments have requested the Union Government to relax norms for the international airlines to run their services from the cities in the countries.

Accordingly the State Government has urged the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to relax the norms relating to bilateral rights for foreign airlines, so as to enable direct flights operation to Dubai from Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA).

There is huge scope for direct international flight from BPIA to Sri Lanka, Singapore and Dubai as these destinations of South Asian and Arabian Countries are attracting tourists, feel officials.

With Air Asia starting service from Kuala Lumpur to Bhubaneswar and Bangkok to Bhubaneswar, the capital city is now connected to about 21 destinations abroad.

Tourists from across the world are showing interest in the State as a major tourist destination.

Looking at the bright prospects of foreign tourist inflow, the State Government had urged MoCA to relax norms for foreign airlines.

Under International UDAN, there is lot of scope for both domestic and international airlines to operate flights from the cities like Bhubaneswar, Agartala, Guwahati, Ahmadabad, Kochi, Raipur and others, said the officials.

Bhubaneswar having an international airport there is lot of scope for connecting to international destinations and the State Government has been subsidizing Air Asia for its Kuala Lumpur service from Bhubaneswar.

Air Asia is running its service uninterruptedly since April, 2017 to Kuala Lumpur and recently has started service to Bangkok from BPIA.

Though domestic airlines major Air India started international flight to Bangkok in December 2017, the service was stopped due to unknown reasons.

Under this backdrop, relaxing norms for international airlines was suggested by the State Government.

However, during the visit of Union Secretary Civil Aviation Rajiv Nayan Choubey to State, it came to fore that MoCA is in no mood to relax such norms for foreign airlines.

Domestic airlines such as Air India and Jet Air are flying their flights to Sri Lanka, Singapore and Dubai.

Hence, the State Government will have to limit its options to these airlines, as there is little scope for opening discussions with international airlines, feel the officials.

However the State Government can offer similar subsidies to international airlines as per terms and conditions it has been extending to Air Asia for their international flights to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok, they said.

While Kuala Lumpur flight operation is subsidized, Bangkok operation is not supported especially under Viability Gap Funding (VGF) programme.

The airlines is running the service as in the earlier MoU, it was mentioned that Air Asia will endeavor to run more flights to Bangkok and Singapore.

However, they are requesting the State Government to extend similar support for Bangkok flight, the sources said.

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