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Minister in flight-delay fracas

Bhubaneswar, April 17: Civil aviation minister Syed Shahnawaz Hussain today had to apologise to a group of Indian Airlines passengers at Biju Patnaik Airport here when the flight he was supposed to take was detained by airport officials.

Hussain, who had come here to unveil a statue of former Orissa chief minister the late Biju Patnaik, was to take the Bhubaneswar-New Delhi flight at 12.50 pm. When the function got delayed, the airport authorities as well airlines officials detained the flight for about half-an-hour.

Several passengers protested when the minister got on the plane. The minister took a Bhubaneswar-Mumbai-New Delhi flight of the airlines.

Earlier, the minister apologised to mediapersons who were peeved over the misbehaviour of airport security personnel. They boycotted the function.

Hussain announced that the runway of Bhubaneswar airport will be extended to 9,000 feet from 7,400 feet. The extension will cost Rs 16 crore.

Hussain said chartered flights would be allowed to land at the airport. Flight operators in Southeast Asia would be allowed to operate from Bhubaneswar if they make an application to the civil aviation ministry.

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