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In Photo: Dignitaries flagging off the first international flight at Bhubaneswar airport.  –Photo Air India.  

Newsmen Bureau

Kolkata, 10 July: IN a major boost to civil aviation in eastern India, the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar got its first international passenger flight connection on Friday with Air India launching a daily service to Dubai via Delhi.

The inaugural flight AI-078, with 163 passengers onboard was flagged from Bhubaneswar amidst heavy rains by the Union minister for tribal affairs Jual Oram, Union MoS for petroleum and natural gas Dharmendra Pradhan and Lok Sabha MP PrasannaPatsani. Of the passengers, 35 were bound for international destinations, Air India said in a release.

AI-078 will take off from Bhubaneswar daily at 2 pm and reach Delhi at 4.25 pm, wherefrom fliers will be shifted to flights to onward international destinations. The corresponding inbound flight AI-077 will take off from Delhi daily at 7 am and reach Bhubaneswar at 9 am.

Air India said, while AI-078 will be operated on a 182-seater Airbus-321 with 12 executive class seating; AI-077 will be operated on a 168-seater Airbus-320.

Air India chairman-cum-managing director Rohit Nandan described it to be “a great day” for Bhubaneswar and said that the airline would follow “the hub and spoke model” to operate the international flight from there.

Going by this, customs and immigration formalities for overseas passengers will be completed at Bhubaneswar itself, and on reaching Delhi, they will only be required to shift to the onward international flight while Air India transfers their check-in baggage automatically.

The newly introduced service will offer convenient links to many international destinations in Gulf, Europe and the USA by connecting the passengers to/from Air India flights.