BHUBANESWAR: Even as a political slugfest continues between the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over international operations from the Biju Patnaik airport here, senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik has given a new twist to the controversy by claiming that the new terminal is a contribution of the UPA Government.
The plan to connect Bhubaneswar to international circuit was conceived by the UPA Government and despite creation of the logistics, the implementation has taken time, which in any case is a welcome development, the former minister said.
The former OPCC president claimed that aviation sector around the world follows the hub and spoke model which protects the domestic sector as well as the interest of the country. If other countries do not agree to bilateral proposal for allowing the country’s airlines to fly to their regional airports, why should India be extra generous under pressure, he asked.
Alleging that the BJD is trying to exploit the situation for petty political gains, Niranjan said that India should follow the hub and spoke model rather than damage its domestic sector.
The effort should now be to ask other airlines to follow Air India so that all passengers flying to international destination from or to Bhubaneswar can do their immigration check at Bhubaneswar, he said and added that the facility of international transfer should be extended from Delhi to other hubs such as Mumbai and Kolkata.
However, denial of direct international flights from Bhubaneswar has been opposed by the BJD. Stating that what has been started is not international flight, BJD spokesperson Pratap Deb said that the State Government has already lodged a protest with the Centre over the matter.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also skipped the launching ceremony on July 10. Naveen was the chief guest as per the invitation card of the Air India published for the occasion.