Odisha Records Increase in Air-passenger Traffic as COVID-19 Cases Dip

As Odisha registers a steady dip in COVID-19 cases, the air-passenger traffic has received a big boost at the two major airports. When domestic flight services resumed partially in May last year following a two-month-long nationwide lockdown, the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) in Bhubaneswar recorded a footfall of 9,493 passengers. This number has been on the rise since then.

The total passenger count at BPIA in January 2021 stood at 2,16,557, including 1,01,986 arrivals and 1,14,571 departures, which is nearly double the footfall (64,675) recorded in June last year. Before the pandemic, the airport used to cater to more than 3 lakh passengers a month.

In 2020, the airport recorded 66,741 passengers in July, 95,320 in August, 1,44,028 in September, 1,76,487 in October, 1,78, 810 in November, and 2,16,069 in December.

“On an average, 33 flights are operating each day from BPIA with a footfall of around 8,000. In normal times, we had over 40 flights with an average passenger turnout of 11,000 per day. We expect to reach the number soon”, said a senior official.

Apart from BPIA, the Veer Surendra Sai (VSS) airport in Jharsuguda also witnessed a rise. There were around 20,000 passengers in November, and 23,000 in December last year. Last month, it increased to 27,125 passengers. The introduction of new flights from BPIA and VSS airports this year to metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Pune, and Bengaluru has also given a boost to the number of air travellers.

Direct flight service between Bhubaneswar and Pune commenced on January 24, while direct flights from Jharsuguda to Mumbai and Bengaluru started operating on January 12. VSS airport now has 52 flights in a week.

“Flights from Jharsuguda to Bengaluru and Mumbai started under non-regional connectivity scheme as there was a huge demand for non-stop services to these two cities,” said a senior VSS airport official. The flight between Jharsuguda and Bengaluru is witnessing a high demand with over 90 percent bookings on each trip, and on average over 100 passengers are travelling to Mumbai in a 189-seater Boeing.

Apart from Mumbai and Bengaluru, direct flights are operating from Jharsuguda to cities like Bhubaneswar, Delhi, Kolkata, Hyderabad, and Raipur.

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