Rourkela, Jan 08: The first commercial flight, which took off from Bhubaneswar airport, was given a water cannon salute because it touched down at Rourkela airport.

Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia inaugurated the first flight to Rourkela through video conferencing, the 72-seater Alliance Air aircraft was flagged off from Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

Among those present at Bhubaneswar airport had been Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Bhubaneswar MP Aparajita Sarangi, Odisha’s Science and Technology Minister Ashok Panda, and Commerce and Transport Minister Tukuni Sahu.

Rourkela airport

Speaking at the occasion, Dharmendra stated that the launch of flight services to Rourkela will give a considerable boost to business and trade activities in the steel city and nearby areas. Thanking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the introduction of the flight service, he said the initiative showed the Centre’s commitment towards ‘Purvodaya’ and speedy development of the eastern part of the country.

Ashok Panda stated the flight service between Bhubaneswar and Rourkela was the dream project of the late Biju Patnaik. “The flight operation between Ekamra Kshetra and Steel City is also important in view of tourism as well. This will remain a milestone,” he said.

On claims made by the BJP over the launching of flight service, he said, “India has a federal system of government. Odisha has an equal share in the operation of the flight service as the Centre has.”

Rourkela airport

After reaching Rourkela airport, the aircraft will fly return to Bhubaneswar and land at BPIA at 1 pm. The everyday normal flights will begin on January 12. With this, Rourkela turns into the fourth airport to begin commercial flight operations in the state after Bhubaneswar, Jharsuguda, and Jeypore. The RSP-run Rourkela airport of SAIL is being managed by the AAI.

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The service is being launched in view of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup scheduled to be held from January 13 to 29. The steel city will co-host the mega sporting event with Bhubaneswar. It will also prove to be a boon for the mining industry in Odisha.

On December 30, the trial landing of ATR-72 aircraft was successfully conducted by Alliance Air as the flight carrying two pilots arrived at Rourkela airport from Jharsuguda at 3.20 pm and took off for Bhubaneswar at 3.45 pm. On the day, Scindia officially announced that commercial flight operations from Rourkela will be launched on January 7.