No takers for flight to Bhubaneswar from Rangeilunda

Air service from Rangeilunda to Bhubaneswar was started with much fanfare last year and the objective was to reduce travel time between the two cities.
Rangeilunda Airport
Rangeilunda AirportPhoto | Express

BERHAMPUR: The deserted airstrip at Rangeilunda airstrip, adjacent to Berhampur university campus is yet another example of fallacy of assumption.

Air service from Rangeilunda to Bhubaneswar was started with much fanfare last year. The objective was to reduce travel time between the two cities. The fare for travel in a nine-seater aircraft, operated by India One Air was fixed at an affordable Rs 1,260 (one way). It takes around three hours to cover the distance of 163 km between Berhampur and Bhubaneswar.

The travel time increases in case of traffic jam. On the other hand, it takes just an hour to cover the distance between the two cities. Even as taxis charge Rs 3,000 for the journey, the air travel despite being cheap has no takers.

At the time the service was introduced, it was assured that bugger flights would be used basing on demand and after the expansion of the runway. However, the proposed expansion of the runway is going on at a snail’s pace due to various reasons including the just-concluded elections during which political party leaders used the air strip for campaigning in Ganjam district. The expansion project was started at a cost of Rs 29 crore but till date only the boundary of the airstrip has been repaired and whitewashed.

The British-era airstrip was included under Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik scheme by the BJP government at the Centre. It presently facilitates take-off and landing of small aircraft and helicopters. Meanwhile, the air service provider has stopped the Sunday service since June 1 on the pretext of operational issues.

Ganjam collector Dibya Jyoti Parida said the air service would be stopped soon for expansion of the runway. He said the work may be completed within three months after which air services would restart.

Sources said the then BJD government had started the service in a hurry without considering several aspects including basic amenities around the airstrip which does not have proper parking for vehicles and transport to Berhampur town.

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