Odisha CM seeks more international air connectivity

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday requested Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri to improve international air connectivity to the state.

The Chief Minister also invited Puri to visit Odisha along with ministry officials and airline CEOs to explore the potential of Bhubaneswar as a favoured international destination.

 “We will take the opportunity to present in-detail the potential of the state and explain the viability of Bhubaneswar as a favoured international destination,” he said.

He also said the state government will provide the necessary support for not only developing infrastructure for aviation but also consider incentives in the shape of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) for the airline operations.

“Odisha has made a tremendous stride in the last few years in terms of the steady growth of aviation traffic. Bhubaneswar and now Jharsuguda has been added to the aviation map of the country. While domestic flight connectivity has seen a noticeable improvement, there is still scope to increase international connectivity,” informed the Chief Minister.

Presently, only one direct flight is operational for the international route. Apart from this, some international destinations are covered either through Delhi/Kolkata hub.

“This is quite inadequate in catering to an aspirational class,” he said.

Patnaik said there is a sizeable Odia diaspora, where the immensely talented young population has been engaged in frontier areas of technology like information-technology, avionics, manufacturing, and services.

The intellectual capital from the state is gainfully employed in countries like the United States of America and Europe, he added.

He also said there are substantial populations of Odia workmen who are working in many of the Middle-East countries.

“Today because of easy mobility and global inter-connectedness, Odias have fanned out to different parts of the world in search of employment. In fact, given the innate talent, immense capacity and trust-worthiness, there will be an increased demand for man-power from the state,” said the Chief Minister.

The Chief Minister said that Odisha has developed as a popular tourist destination today and offers India’s finest eco-tourism hotspots such as Chilika Lagoon, Simlipal, Bhitarakanika, Satkosia, to name a few and vast swathes of virgin beaches.

“We are already part of the International Buddhist circuit. We are coming up with many such innovative products, which I am sure will be lapped up by the international tourists and tour operators,” he added.

He also sought early air connectivity to Jeypore and Rourkela airstrips under the RCS-UDAN scheme.

“We are expecting early Regional Connectivity under UDAN (Ude Desh Ki Aam Nagrik) to two airstrips, Jeypore and Rourkela, which is one of the places hosting the World Cup Hockey matches in 2023,” said the Chief Minister.