Flight cancellations leave fliers doubtful on service continuity in Odisha
They said the ATR-72 daily operates at least eight long journeys originating from Kolkata. Every day from Kolkata it reaches Aizawl, returns to Kolkata and then flies to Jharsuguda.
ROURKELA: Around 48 passengers including a senior corporate executive of ATR-72 aircraft of Air Alliance were a disgruntled lot after the abrupt cancellation of their flight from Bhubaneswar to Rourkela even after a long wait of three hours on Sunday.
Sources said the ATR-72 flight was supposed to depart from Bhubaneswar at 3 pm and reach Rourkela in an hour. However, the intimation of flight cancellation came after around three hours at 6 pm. While many passengers were forced to hire vehicles for Rs 10,000-Rs 12,000, some others had to rush for last-minute train ticket booking costing them an extra travel time of eight to 10 hours. Around 51 fliers at Rourkela faced a similar ordeal on the day.
Incidentally, for the past three consecutive days - Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the flight operation reportedly got cancelled over operational issues purely associated with Alliance Air despite sound occupancy varying from 44 to 51. In fact, over the past fortnight, flight operation was abruptly cancelled at least for five days over poor visibility and operational difficulties.
As if the lack of an Instrument Landing System (ILS) and night landing facility at the Rourkela airport were not enough, a cloud of uncertainty now hovers over the continuation of flight operations to Rourkela with the nature of operational difficulties of Alliance Air.
A reliable source said amid intense pressure in view of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup (HWC) taking place at Rourkela in January 2023, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on January 7 launched flight operation on the Rourkela-Bhubaneswar route through the Selected Airline Operator (SAO) Alliance Air which has only one ATR-72 aircraft. They attributed the recent cancellations to stressed-out daily operations of the single aircraft and the physical and mental strain of the crew members.
They said the ATR-72 daily operates at least eight long journeys originating from Kolkata. Every day from Kolkata it reaches Aizawl, returns to Kolkata and then flies to Jharsuguda. From Jharsuguda it goes to Bhubaneswar and then to Rourkela.
From Rourkela, it reaches Bhubaneswar and returns to Jharsuguda for taking the last flight of the day to Kolkata. They said the hectic flight schedules create a natural strain on the aircraft and the crew members.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) in a written reply to Rourkela residents and RSP Executives’
Association president Bimal Bisi said it is providing communication, navigation, surveillance (CNS) and air traffic management (ATM) services to the airport owner SAIL on cost recovery basis and the airport would be equipped with ILS and night landing facility in the event of SAIL willing to bear overall and operational expenditures.