Bhubaneswar, Jan. 27: Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia will fly its first international flight from Biju Patnaik International Airport on March 27. The flight will connect the city to Kuala Lumpur.
“Following our negotiations with the airline, AirAsia has decided to start operations from the end of March,” chief secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi said today.
Regional executive director of Airports Authority of India (AAI) Sanjaya Jain said the AAI would provide all support to AirAsia for the flight. He said: “AirAsia will start operations from March 27. Later, we will have direct flights to other destinations in South East Asia and Middle Eastern countries.”
Sources said the flight to Kuala Lumpur would operate four days a week. It is expected to take off from the low-cost airline’s hub in the Malaysian capital in the evening and reach Bhubaneswar around 11pm. After a halt of 30-40 minutes, the aircraft will leave for Kuala Lumpur, where it will reach early next morning.
Sources said initially the airline would use a plane with a seating capacity of 130-140. Later, if the demand increased, AirAsia would introduce a bigger aircraft. In the second phase, a Bhubaneswar-Bangkok flight is expected to start operations.
Keeping in mind its failure to have a flight operating between Bhubaneswar and Dubai 2011, the state government has this time decided to extend all support to the new venture. “Until AirAsia makes it a viable commercial proposition, the Odisha government has decided to give the company financial support through its viable gap fund,” said a senior official of the state government.
AirAsia is the largest low-cost airline in the continent. From its Kuala Lumpur hub, it connects to destinations across Asia, Australia, New Zealand.
Earlier this week, the airline announced it had received clearance from the Federal Aviation Authority to fly to the US. The approval allows AirAsia’s long-haul, low-cost sister airline AirAsia X, which also has its hub at the same airport in Kuala Lumpur, to operate services to any destination within the US. The airline also has plans to have a flight to London from Kuala Lumpur.
Excited with the development, entrepreneur and hotelier Debasish Patnaik, a frequent traveller, said: “Once the international air service begins, the tourist flow to the state will leapfrog.”
Source: The Telegraph