BHUBANESWAR: International connectivity from Bhubaneswar, which was launched by Air India (AI) two years back for providing seamless travel for overseas flyers, seems to have attracted few takers.
There are multiple reasons which can be attributed to the poor show of AI in terms of direct overseas passengers from the City.
The passengers have to fly up to a domestic hub, which is Delhi in this case, where there is an undue waiting period till the boarding for the international flight is announced. Domestic aircraft (used as feeder flights) of the flag carrier to Delhi, which once boasted over 70 passengers, is barely managing 10 odd flyers in a day. Besides, the customs and immigration clearance from Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) is available only for those travellers who fly AI on their international leg of the travel.
For an overseas traveller from Bhubaneswar, it is easy to book a cheaper flight which lands at Delhi late in the evening. This is lighter on the pocket besides reducing the waiting time at Indira Gandhi International Airport at the national capital.
A travel industry expert said unless the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) here has direct connectivity to a busy airport in a Gulf country through Kolkata or Delhi, the number of overseas passengers will be in single digits.
Facing a passenger crunch, the BPIA is struggling to provide basic amenities for flyers from the City. The international terminal which caters to the sole flight operated by AI is deprived of basic facilities for passengers.
There is no foreign exchange counter which is a mandatory provision for an international airport. Getting access to facilities like wheelchair assistance, drinking water and ambulance is not an easy affair at the City airport.
“There are a few international passengers from the City other than tourists to South-East Asia on the recently started private airline AirAsia. It is not possible to maintain international standards with this level of traffic,’’ said BPIA Director SC Hota. The authorities are planning for a parallel ‘taxiway’ for parking and taxing of multiple flights, he added.
The Airport Authority of India’s attention to the International terminal is apathetic. The traffic has been affected because of lack of facilities here at the BPIA, an AI official said asking not to be quoted.