ROURKELA: The Rourkela airport is likely to be declared operation-ready on December 5. The Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL and Airports Authority of India (AAI) are planning to start operation of commercial flights from the airport from December 5. Flight operation from Rourkela is important as the Steel City is all set to co-host the Men’s Hockey World Cup from January 13 to 29 next year.
On October 28, the Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) of SAIL and the Airports Authority of India (AAI) signed a fresh MoU for operation and management of the airport for commercial use under the RCS-UDAN scheme.
Sources said before the MoU was signed, the RSP had already applied to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for upgradation of the airport’s licence from ARC 2B to ARC 2C to allow operation of ATR-72 aircraft. The airport was earlier granted ARC 2B licence for operation of 19 seaters and the RCS-UDAN initiative failed to take off as such smaller aircraft were not available with the selected flight operators.
To ensure operation of 72 seaters, the airport upgradation project involving expansion of the runway, construction of new apron and taxiway, new terminal building and perimeter wall was taken up by the AAI at a cost of Rs 64.24 crore.
It is learnt that the Alliance Air has emerged as the selected airline operator for Rourkela-Bhubaneswar route. Sources said talks are also underway with other airline operators for the Rourkela-Kolkata route.
Earlier, in a reply to Odisha Chief Secretary Suresh Mohapatra, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Bansal had said in view of the mega hockey event, the ministry has requested all the scheduled airlines to favourably consider enhancing connectivity to VSS airport at Jharsuguda.
Mohapatra had written to Bansal expressing concern over cancellations of Spice Jet flights to Odisha from major Indian cities and urged him to enhance flight frequency/connectivity from important cities to Jharsuguda, especially during the Hockey World Cup to boost access to Rourkela.