ROURKELA: If everything goes on expected lines, Rourkela’s long wait for restoration of commercial flight service may end soon under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) titled UDAN. For the launch of UDAN, a six-member Central team comprising officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI), Directorate General of Civil Aviation, Air Traffic Controller, India Meteorological Department and Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) on Friday inspected the status of the Rourkela airport operated by Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL.
Rourkela ADM Monisha Banerjee said the team would submit a report to the Ministry of Civil Aviation Ministry (MoCA) for further action. Sources said the airport is operational as SAIL is operating its flights here, but commercial service was stopped in late 1980s. The airport added another feather to its cap in March 2016 with inauguration of Aviation Fuel Turbine (ATF) station of IOCL, the second airport in Odisha to have refuelling facility after Bhubaneswar.
In 2007 and 2014, different teams of Airports Authority of India (AAI) conducted spot inspections and twice recommended resuming ATR-type aircraft after minor modifications to the airport. The RSP was also ready to hand over the aerodrome to AAI. But towards the end of 2015, MoCA refused to accord it commercial airport status citing that a major airport is coming up at Jharsuguda within an aerial distance of 86 km.