Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today flagged off national carrier Air India's maiden flight from Bhubaneswar to Bangkok at Biju Patnaik International Airport today.

Air India's new flight is the second direct international service from the Odisha capital.

The airline operated a 162-seater Airbus A 320 neo aircraft on its inaugural flight from Bhubaneswar to Bangkok.

The first flight took off today with 38 passengers on board from Bhubaneswar to Bangkok.

Describing this as a historic moment, Patnaik said he hoped it will further strengthen ties with southeast Asian countries.

"It will also boost trade and tourism. Besides, it will pave way to attract more international visitors to our Buddhist tourism centres, said Patnaik after cutting a cake with passengers.

He also thanked Air India for starting the international flight.

State Tourism Minister Ashok Panda said the direct flight service would boost tourism sector.

The Bhubaneswar-Bangkok flight will operate twice a week - Thursday and Sunday.This is the second international flight from the BPIA as low-cost airline AirAsia launched its international operations from the airport on April 26, 2017.

Earlier, the incoming flight from Bangkok, AI 339, was welcomed with the customary water canon salute after it landed here. The passengers were given rousing welcome after they landed at the airport.

Incoming passengers were also given mementos and rose buds.

The flight to Bangkok fulfils a long-standing desire of the people of the state, which is known for its rich socio-religious confluence of Hindu, Buddhist and Jain heritage, said an airline official.

The first direct international flight from Bhubaneswar started on April 26 this year.