Cabinet nod for international status to Bbsr airport

New Delhi: The Union Cabinet on Wednesday gave its approval for declaring the Bhubaneswar and Imphal airports as international airports to fulfill the long pending demand of people as well as the State Governments of Odisha and Manipur.

"Declaration of these airports as international airports will offer improved connectivity, wider choice of services at competitive cost to the air travelers resulting in boosting international tourism and economic development of the region and the country," an official statement said.

Talking to reporters Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, "This has been a longstanding demand of our state government that Biju Patnaik Airport gets international status. I have been informed that this has been cleared today."

The release added, the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar belongs to Airport Authority of India (AAI) and is suitable for operation of Code 'D' aircraft of type Boeing 767-400. The airport is also equipped with facilities for night operations, with runway 2,743 metres and apron to park six aircraft and navigational aids, it added.

Recently, in its effort to boost intra state air-connectivity, the State government has reduced landing and night parking charges for private aircraft operators. Besides, it is also keen to cut value added tax (VAT) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) to five per cent from 20 per cent presently to attract more private operators for running flights to domestic and international destinations from the city, sources said.

"The cabinet decision according international status to the airport came at the right time. We have almost completed the modification work at the old domestic terminal. Now we hope international fliers will approach us to start operations," said airport director Sharad Kumar.

On the other hand airport authorities estimate that on a daily basis at least 180 passengers will fly to Bangkok and 150 passengers each to Dubai and Singapore from Bhubaneswar. They are also hopeful that there would be a 25 per cent increase in air passenger flow to the state with the commencement of international flights.

Recently AAI has constructed a new domestic terminal building at a cost of Rs 145 crore with all modern amenities for handling 400 arriving and 400 departing passengers which was inaugurated in March 2013.

The modification/renovation of the existing domestic terminal building into international terminal building with an area of 6264 sqm. suitable for handling international operations has also been completed.

The airport has six check-in-counters, custom counters and immigration counters were being provided. The facilities of customs, immigration, health services and animal and plant quarantine at the airport have also been completed.
The Cabinet also took up the amendments in the bilateral air service agreement between India and Slovenia.