By bappaditya paul
Bhubaneswar airport in Odisha has registered profit for the first time since its inception.
According to the Airports Authority of India (AAI), the Biju Patnaik Airport in Bhubaneswar recorded an operational profit of Rs 6.64 crore in the 2011-12 fiscal ending March.
In terms of passengers, during the period, the airport in Odisha’s capital witnessed a flow of 12,42,745 air travellers. This was 1,83,794 passengers higher than the previous year.
The development is significant given that Odisha happens to be one of the most backward regions in India and is badly hit by the Maoists insurgency.
AAI’s regional executive director, Eastern Region, Mr ML Lekhra, attributed the development to both an increase in air traffic flow to Bhubaneswar and the optimal use of commercial properties at the airport.
“Our revenue from traffic, which is directly corresponding to the number of people accessing the airport, rose by Rs 6.27 crore in 2011-12. The increase in traffic is mainly because of the new industries that are being set up across Odisha and this makes more people flying into Bhubaneswar,” the officer said.At present, 21 daily flights connect Bhubaneswar airport to the cities of Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Vishakhapatnam and Port Bliar. Of these, seven are operated by state-owned Air India, nine by Jet Airways and another five by IndiGo. The airport currently does not have any international connectivity.
Bhubaneswar airport’s non-traffic revenue, which comes from renting / leasing of commercial space for shops, car parking etc, also rose from about Rs 7-crore in 2010-11 to 11.40 crore in 2011-12 fiscal.
“We can create all the necessary infrastructure at an airport, but the number of flight operations is something that is beyond our control. It depends entirely on the demand factor. Hence, the AAI’s focus is on optimising the use of commercial properties at all airports and this has paid a huge dividend in making Bhubaneswar airport operationally profitable for the first time since inception,” Mr Lekhra said.
(The author is on the staff of The Statesman, India. This report first appeared in The Statesman on 5 May 2012.)