BHUBANESWAR: Direct international flights from the State will soon be a reality. The State Government on Friday signed MoU with AirAsia Berhad for operating direct flights between Bhubaneswar and Kuala Lumpur. While the modalities of the operations have already been discussed, the flights are likely to start from the first week of April.
On behalf of the Government, Director of Tourism Nitin Bhanudas Jawale signed the MoU while AirAsia was represented by the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)Aiereen Omar. The administrative, financial and commercial aspects of the operations were discussed in the meeting.
Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, who chaired the meeting, welcomed the maiden international operations and said the process took an effort of around five years to materialise.
AirAsia was selected through an international bidding process. In the first phase, two flights will operate in a week between the two cities. The Government will provide a viability gap funding for a span of one year to AirAsia for the operations, sources said.
Speaking to mediapersons Jawale said Odisha has a traditional connect with South East Asia which will be strengthened by the direct connectivity. “Smart City Bhubaneswar has become an educational hub of Eastern India which attracts many foreign students every year,” said Jawale.
Frequent flyers to SE Asian countries would have an option to fly from the city. The State’s tourism, trade, hospitality sector and cultural exchange will witness a surge owing to the international connectivity, he added.
The State Government had allowed a subsidy support of `1.7 lakh per round trip for starting air services from Bhubaneswar to Singapore, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Besides, the value added tax (VAT) on aviation turbine fuel (ATF) has been reduced to zero per cent for direct international flights from the State.
Among others, Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan, Special Secretary of General Administration and Civil Aviation Ashok Kumar Meena, Industry Secretary Sanjeev Chopra, MSME Secretary LN Gupta and senior officials were present.