Airports in Odisha: Flying To And About The Land of Temples
The 21st century has seen the metamorphosis of aviation as a process to an indispensable utility of today's sophisticated tourist. The skies are no longer the limit, and at the click of a mouse today, you can book yourself a seat amidst clouds tomorrow. Odisha, the cultural land of the east is not alien to this virtue and is well connected via air to the rest of its sister cities and there are a number of airports in Odisha.
Currently, there are 17 airstrips and 16 helipads. The major Airports in Odisha are:
The only international airport of the state and one of the best airports in Odisha, it is named after famed aviator and freedom fighter Biju Patnaik. A new terminal (T1), having a capacity of about 4 million passengers and catering to domestic flights was inaugurated in 2013 and the older terminal (T2) was refurbished to support international operations. The T1 terminal, along with being replete with facilities like of a spa and several lounges is also environment-friendly, built according to green building standards, with sewage treatment plants and provision for rain water harvesting. Internal walls of the terminal have been decorated with art and sculpture inspired by Odisha's rich culture. Food kiosks, art galleries and bookstores are also included. The second terminal (T2) conducts Air India and Air Asia flights. Due to these promising developments, it was judged as the best airport in India for two years straight, and in the fiscal year 2016-17, Biju Patnaik International Airport was ranked the 17th busiest airport in India by Airports Authority of India (AAI).
Proximity: 3 km south of the city centre
Nearby attractions: A gateway to the capital city of temples, the airport has several tourist attractions accessible from it like Lingaraja Temple (1.5 km), Odisha State Museum (2.6 km), Ratnagiri Buddhist Excavations (4.6 km) among others.
Connectivity: Well-connected with the rest of the city. Easy availability of cab services.
2. Jharsuguda Airport
Located in western Odisha and spread over an area of 909 acres, the Jharsuguda Airport's airfield is of historical significance and is one of the most important airports in Odisha. It was used during World War II by the Allied Forces to counter Japanese advances. Abandoned earlier, it was used as a launchpad by Air Odisha for non-scheduled commercial flights between Rourkela, Jharsuguda and Bhubaneswar in 2012. In 2013, a development project for a second airport was sanctioned to be jointly executed by the State Government and Airports Authority of India (AAI). Its completion is due in May 2018. The airport, which will be developed with an investment of 210 crores, will have a facility to handle at least 300 passengers per day.
Proximity: 5 km north-east of Jharsuguda
Nearby attractions: Jhadeswar Temple (10.1 km), Bikramkhol Caves (25 km) and Kolabira Fort (24.8 km)
Connectivity: Cabs are not available. Jharsuguda Railway Station is located at a distance of 10 km
3. Rourkela Airport
Presently under preparation for proper facilities, this is a private airport mainly used by dignitaries and other V.I.Ps. In the 1950s, this airstrip was constructed by the Tata Iron and Steel Company for the purpose of carrying officials of the company between the two steel cities - Jamshedpur and Rourkela. The AAI took over in 1961, and a new airport was constructed. Domestic flying took form in late 2012 and became a regular affair for passengers travelling from Rourkela to Bhubaneswar and Kolkata.
Proximity: 6 km west of Rourkela
Nearby attractions: Vedvyas Temple (12.7 km), Maa Vaishnodevi Temple (7.1 km), Hanuman Vatika (6.5 km), Mandira Dam (20 km)
Connectivity: Cabs and car rentals are easily available
4. Jeypore Airport
Spread over an area of 60 acres, this airstrip was constructed in 1962. There are no scheduled services to the airport at present, but identification of more potential land adjoining it for expansion is being carried out.
Proximity: 3 km north-west of Jeypore
5. Savitri Jindal Airport
Owned by Jindal Steel and Power and named after the richest lady of India, this public/private airstrip is located in Angul. Air Odisha operates commercial scheduled flights from this airport to Bhubaneswar, Jeypore, Jharsuguda and Rourkela.
Proximity: 20.8 km from Angul
6. Hirakud Airstrip
Built by the British, this airstrip is also known as Jamardarpalli Airstrip and is mainly used by politicians and dignitaries. It has been proposed that it may become the future airport of Sambalpur which would be a great contribution towards the development of this area.
Flight service between Sambalpur & Bhubaneswar conducted
Also known as Rangeilunda Airstrip, this airstrip was built by the British during World War II and is adjacent to Berhampur University. It houses a 750m long runway and a decent helipad. Spread over an area of 40 acres, the runway is used by the defence establishment, State Government, Private companies and VIPs to reach Berhampur and other places in south Odisha. The State's second flying training Institute is coming up at the airport. No scheduled commercial air service at this airport presently.
It is located in the Kalahandi district of Odisha. Owned by the State Government, this airstrip is going to be operational from September with daily flights to Bhubaneswar and Raipur by private air service provider Air Odisha.
Proximity: 20 km from Bhawanipatna
Nearby attractions: Bhawanipatna Palace (23 km), Durga Mandir (23 km)
9. Charbatia Air Base, Cuttack
It is an aerial reconnaissance post of the intelligence agency's aviation unit, the Aviation Research Centre (ARC). The Research and Analysis Wing, India's primary foreign intelligence agency, operates intelligence collection aircraft through the ARC. In 2011, the Government of India which controls the 2000-acre air base announced that it would be converted into a full-fledged Indian Air Force station. But the plans for setting up such a station were cancelled and were shifted to Panagarh in West Bengal. A US recon plane, U-2 taking off from Charbatia Air Base, Cuttack
Proximity: 10 km north of Cuttack
The Odisha Government has proposed to develop greenfield airports in five locations to boost intra-State and inter-State civil aviation facilities. The five airports will come up in the industrial hubs of Rayagada, Paradip, Dhamara, Angul and Kalinganagar. The state also set a target of creating milestones such as domestic terminal and connectivity, setting up of aviation training institutes, the operationalisation of an international flight, development of cargo hub and airline base.
Irrespective of whether an airport is functional or is under renovation, it surely marks the onset of a whole new level of development in the area it belongs to. Odisha, being a developing state, direly needs any tiny effort made in that direction.