With little scope to relax norms relating to bilateral rights for foreign airlines, the State Government’s
plan to connect Bhubaneswar with Colombo, Singapore and Dubai will face hurdle, feel senior officials.
Odisha along with several other State Governments are requesting 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 Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) to relax the norms relating to bilateral rights for foreign airlines, so that they can operate direct flights to Dubai from Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA).
There is huge scope for direct international flight from BPIA to Srilanka, Singapore and Dubai as these destinations of South Asian and Arabian countries are attracting tourists.
With Air Asia started flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bhubaneswar and Bangkok to Bhubaneswar the capital city is connected to about 21 destinations abroad. So tourists from all over the world are showing interest in the State as a major tourist destination.
Looking at the bright prospects for 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, Ahemdabad, Kochi, Raipur and others.
Being Bhubaneswar an international airport there is lot of scope for connecting to international destinations so the State Government has been subsidizing to Air Asia for its flight to Kuala Lumpur.
Air Asia is flying its flights continuously since April,
2017, to Kuala Lumpur and recently it has started to Bangkok from BPIA.
Though domestic airlines major, Air India started international flight to Bangkok in December, 2017, the flight operation is stopped due to unknown reasons.
So there is little continuity on count of international flight by domestic airlines, where as foreign airlines are continuing their services.
Under this backdrop, relaxing norms for international airlines was suggested by the State Government.
However, during the Odisha visit of Union Secretary Civil Aviation, Rajiv Nayan Choubey, it came tothe fore that MoCA is in no mood to relax such norms for foreign airlines.
Domestic airlines like Air India and Jet Air are flying their flights to Srilanka, Singapore and Dubai.
So the State Government will have to limit its options to these airlines, officials feel as there is little scope for opening discussions with international airlines. 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.
While Kuala Lumper flight operation is subsidized, Bangkok operation is not supported especially under Viability Gap Funding (VGF) programme.
As in earlier MoU, it was mentioned that Air Asia will endeavor to runmore flights to Bangkok and Singapore, so the airlines is flying the flight. However they are requesting the State Government to extend similar support for Bangkok flight, sources said.