Dual boost to aviation sector Rourkela on air service radar

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By SUBRAT DAS
  • Published 16.09.14
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Bhubaneswar, Sept. 15: The state government today decided to explore commercial viability of operating the airport in Rourkela on a regular basis.

This was decided at a meeting, presided by chief secretary Gokul Chandra Pati and attended by officials of the Airports Authority of India (AAI), Rourkela Steel Plant and representatives of the Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The meeting was convened after the Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Rourkela Steel Plant had demanded to start air service from the city. It gained momentum after the state government and the AAI signed an MoU on July 30 to develop the existing airport at Jharsuguda to a full-fledged one with an investment of around Rs 200 crore.

At the meeting, the Steel Authority of India, which owns the small airport, was asked to prepare a project proposal indicating the support they require from the central and the state governments.

Director of Bhubaneswar airport Sharad Kumar, who was present at the meeting, said the Rourkela Steel Plant and the Rourkela Chamber of Commerce and Industry were interested for the operation of the airport. “We have given certain suggestions to various stakeholders. Let’s first get their responses. We will see how soon the operation can start.”

President of the Rourkela Chamber of Commerce Subrat Patnaik said: “We have all infrastructure to run 50-seater aircraft.”

Patnaik said the existing airport was having a 6,000-feet long runway, while a 4,500-feet runway was required to operate the 50-seater aircraft.

He said availability of passengers would not be a problem, since the region had a host of industries, including the Rourkela Steel Plant.

However, efforts to start private air service in the past had failed due to lack of response. On November 4, 2012, a nine-seater Cessna, operated by Air Odisha, had started its operation.

However after a month, the flight was cancelled due to lack of response. The cost was prohibitive for many as the fare between Rourkela to Bhubaneswar was Rs 5,499.

Prior to this Vayudoot had conducted the only official run from here and it also closed because it had proved to be a loss-making proposition.

On October 21 last year, the civil aviation department had written to 15 major industries of west Odisha and the National Institute of Technology, Rourkela, to avail themselves of the services of a proposed nine-seater aircraft of a private operator to ensure intra-state air connectivity. But no response was received, said an official.