Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Air Odisha suspends flights, Jharsuguda airport closed

Bhubaneswar: The much-hyped Veer Surendra Sai (VSS) Airport at Jharsuguda, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 22, had literally given wings to the dreams of the people of Western Odisha. But it has taken only 15 days for the wings to fall off as the airport has been forced to shut down over arbitrary suspension of flights by the operator Air Odisha. Since October 7, no flight has landed or taken off from the new airport, virtually grounding PM Modi’s pet project, Udey Desh ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) scheme and dashing the hopes of common citizens of the region to be able to fly.

According to the VSS Airport officials, Air Odisha suspended its flight without any intimation. Despite repeated queries by the airport authorities, the operator has been non-committal on resumption of operations. “The last flight operated from the airport on October 6 and since then, all flights have remained suspended by the airlines citing internal and technical issues. We have issued a letter to Air Odisha to restart its operations immediately,” VSS Airport Director SK Chauhan told The Express.

Air Odisha had bagged the permission to operate flights from Jharsuguda to Bhubaneswar, Ranchi and Raipur under UDAN. The Prime Minister had also flagged off  the first flight on Jharsuguda-Raipur route from the State’s second airport built 56 years after Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) in Bhubaneswar.
The airport was set up at an estimated cost of `210 crore with a contribution of `75 crore from the State Government. It has state-of-the-art passenger facilities on par with other domestic airports in the country. It is equipped with an air-conditioned terminal, flight information display system (FIDS), two cafeterias, passenger baggage trolleys, etc.
23/10/18 Anish Mehta/New Indian Express
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