Chief Minister Naveen Patanik has reiterated his demand for declaration of the Bhubaneswar airport as an 'international airport'.
“I would request you to kindly take the initiative for declaring the Biju Patnaik airport-Bhubaneswar as an international airport. You may also use your good offices to ask the airline operators to operate international flights out of the Biju Patnaik airport”, Patnaik stated in a letter to Minister of civil aviation Ajit Singh.
Patnaik has urged the ministry of civil aviation to explore the possibility of connecting Bhubaneswar to West Asia, South Asian and South-east Asian countries.
“The work of new domestic terminal building complex at the Biju Patnaik airport is nearing completion and is likely to be ready in a month or two. The existing terminal building with suitable modifications for handling immigration and customs can handle international flights”, he stated in the letter.
In March this year, the Ministry of civil aviation agreed to prepare a note immediately to seek Cabinet approval for upgrading the Biju Patnaik airport in Bhubaneswar into an international airport, responding to Odisha's long-standing demand. Realizing the growing importance of Bhubaneswar as a business destination, international airline operators like Fly Dubai and Air Asia had evinced interest in running their flight operations to and from the city.
More recently, Gurgaon-based low cost carrier Indigo has offered a bait to the state government- it is ready to take off international flights from the Bhubaneswar airport if the state government slashes ATF (aviation turbine fuel) substantially- on the lines of Andhra Pradesh government. In February 2008, the Andhra Pradesh government had drastically reduced sales tax on ATF from 33 per cent to four per cent. Following the commissioning of the new terminal, the Bhubaneswar airport would have an overall passenger handling capacity of 1.93 million per year. It would also have the capacity to handle 20 outgoing and 20 incoming flights every day. Passenger traffic at this airport has witnessed a year-on-year growth of12.81 per cent in 2007-08, 9.67 per cent in 2008-09 and 31.01 per cent in 2009-10.