ROURKELA: Upgradation and restoration of commercial flight services at the Rourkela airport in view of the Men’s Hockey World Cup next year do not seem a reality before October this year. The tournament is scheduled for January 2023.
Sources familiar with the project said the revised target for operationalising the airport is October this year. Considering the monsoons ahead, only three months are left in hand. In June 2021, work had begun for a new apron and taxiway at a cost of Rs 5.69 crore. But even after nine months, little progress could be seen on the ground. While tenders for new terminal building and carpeting of runway have not yet been awarded, nothing has been done for widening of the connecting road or construction of the new perimeter walls with increased height.
For expansion of the existing runway, Rourkela Steel Plant has provided 146 acre, but presently, less than 15 acre has been used by Airports Authority of India (AAI). All these works are time consuming and completion within a few months is doubtful, sources added.
Incidentally, expecting airport upgradation by May, the AAI had earlier set time to apply to the DGCA for upgradation of the existing ARC 2B licence to ARC 2 which now looks improbable.
Meanwhile, replying to BJD MP Amar Patnaik, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on Monday made a statement in the Rajya Sabha regarding status of the Rourkela airport.
The Minister said the airport owned by SAIL is licensed for Aerodrome Reference 2B operations (suitable for 20 seater aircrafts). It has received bids for ATR-72 aircraft under the RCS-UDAN scheme. The implementing agency AAI has undertaken upgradation of the airport for Code 3C suitable for operation of ATR 72 type aircraft. He further clarified 1,349 feet of the existing runway is serviceable.
Replying to Patnaik’s question if there is any plan to issue ARC 4C licence to the airport for operation of bigger aircrafts before the showpiece hockey event, the Minister said Code 4C operation is not feasible within the available land.
On January 31, the Minister had written to Raghunathpali MLA Subrat Tarai informing that Rourkela-Bhubaneswar route under RCS-UDAN scheme was awarded to Alliance Air. Till December 2021, around Rs 28.27 crore was spent on airport upgradation, and AAI has instructed to expedite the project to ensure completion by October 2022. After that, Alliance Air would start flight operation.