Odisha to invest Rs 30 crore to develop airstrips

Bhubaneswar: With the Biju Patnaik International Airport all set to host its first international flight to Dubai on July 10, Odisha government today decided to invest Rs 30 crore for development of eight airstrips in the state.

The decision in this regard was taken at a high-level meeting presided over by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik here.

“The state government will spend Rs 30 crore for improving facilities in its existing airstrips,” an official said.

Of the three major air facilities in the state, one is maintained by the Airports Authority of India while one each is managed by SAIL and the Defence Ministry. The rest are being maintained by the state government.

However, the official said the state government would undertake infrastructure development in airstrips in a phased manner. On the first phase, it has chosen Jeypore airstrip in Koraput district and Jamdarpali in Sambalpur district.

Among other facilities, the state government would like to have running light system and air traffic advisory system in all its airstrips, the official said.

Meanwhile, the trial run for international flights to the Biju Patnaik International Airport will start on July 8, two days before the formal international operations take off.

The 6,264 square-metre Terminal-II of the airport has been specially equipped for international operations. It can handle 400 passengers every hour and 1,80,000 passengers a year, said airport director Sharad Kumar.

While the new terminal has been completely digitised, six Customs clearance counters and three conveyor belts have also been set up, Kumar said.

“We are going to use Terminal-II exclusively for international operations. This will make things easier for passengers as they won’t have to change flights anymore,” Kumar said.

Though the Biju Patnaik Airport got its international certification on October 30, 2013, no international flight has so far operated on the grounds of commercial viability.

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