The annual passenger footfall at Biju Pattnaik airport crossed the 1.5 million mark in 2014-15 fiscal year, paving the way for it to be enlisted as a ‘major airport’. Any airport that annually handles 1.5 million passengers or more is accorded the ‘major airport’ tag.
Recording a footfall of 15 Lac passengers per annum, the city airport has registered a growth rate of 8.7 per cent over the last year in terms of passenger flow. In terms of aircraft movement, the airport has had a 5.1 per cent growth and in cargo handling, 40 per cent growth has been recorded.
Airport officials attributed the growth to three factors — reduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) on Air Turbine Fuel (ATF) from 20 per cent to five per cent, increase of flights and economy fares. Other associated factors, officials said, are a state-of-the-art domestic terminal and improved passenger amenities. “Once an airport gets the ‘major’ tag, development plans for the airport are designed on a higher scale. Since Biju Pattnaik airport is a government one, we will get more funds from the civil aviation ministry to carry out further development,” said airport director Sharad Kumar.
According to official sources, 15,38,471 passengers (incoming and outgoing) flew in the fiscal year 2014-15. This is nearly double of the 2007-08 passenger footfall, when it was 7,02,201. The aircraft movement in 2007 per year was 12,272 and in 2014-15 it more than doubled. “In eight years, the airport has proved its mettle. While eight years ago, we had only 12,000 movement of aircrafts in a year, now it is more than 26,000,” said Kumar. At present, 21 domestic flights run operations from here. They include seven daily flights each to Kolkata and Delhi, one daily flight each to Port Blair and Bangalore and two daily flights each to Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam. One flight runs to Port Blair twice a week.
In cargo handling also, the airport has fared well by handling 5761 metric tonne (incoming and outgoing) cargo in the year. In 2007-08, it was only 1258 metric tonne. “We hope to handle 3500 metric tonne incoming and 7500 metric tonne outgoing cargo annually. Once the proposed cargo hub is ready, we can store a variety of cargo. At present, we are not able to store cargo due to space crunch,” said the director. He added that they were currently handling 40 per cent perishable items, 48 per cent general cargo and two per cent valuable items and 10 per cent different kinds of courier services.