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The Biju Patnaik airport in the city is likely to get the much awaited ‘international tag’ by March 2013 with the Ministry of Civil Aviation making efforts to enable the domestic airport achieve the coveted status.
“There has been an in-principle decision to upgrade the Bhubaneswar airport into an international airport. After domestic flight operations will be shifted to the new terminal, some facilities have to be made available at the existing terminal to make it ready for international operations. This will take 2-3 months. Keeping in view (March 2013) timeline, we are making necessary efforts,” said civil aviation secretary, K N Srivastava after meeting chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Patnaik has been persistently demanding upgradation of the city airport into an international airport. He had also urged the ministry of civil aviation to explore the possibility of connecting Bhubaneswar to West Asia, South Asian and South-east Asian countries.
Srivastava informed that Gulf Airlines was keen to operate its flights out of the Bhubaneswar airport but at first the airport needs to be readied for international air operations.
On the progress of the new domestic terminal, he said, “The new terminal building will be ready by mid-December.”
The new domestic terminal had a successful run earlier this month. The terminal with a total built-up area of around 200,000 sqft at a cost of around Rs 100 crore is centrally air-conditioned with peak hour capacity of 800 passengers. At the newly built terminal, there are provisions for 18 check-in-counters, four lifts, two escalators, two aero-bridges and security hold seating capacity for 600 passengers at a time.