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Rupani inaugurates Air Odishas first flight under UDAN scheme

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: February 17, 2018  | 14:42 IST

Ahmedabad, Feb 17 (PTI) Air Odisha today launched its maiden flight under the Centres UDAN scheme, linking Mundra with Ahmedabad in Gujarat.

Chief Minister Vijay Rupani launched the inaugural flight of the Bhubaneswar-based airline.

Air Odisha, which started services as a non-scheduled operator in November 2012, was granted the flying permit by the DGCA to launch flights under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), the Centres regional connectivity scheme (RCS), on last Tuesday.

It has bagged 50 routes under the RCS.

Air Odisha is starting services from Ahmedabad to Jamnagar, Mundra and Diu in the first phase of its operation under the UDAN scheme.

Of these, the Mundra-Ahmedabad service took off today. Mundra, in Kutch district, houses a mega private port.

"It is the realisation of the dream of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. UDAN aims to provide air facility to the common man through regional connectivity.

"Till now, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Surat were all connected to Mumbai, but with this service, these cities will be connected to Ahmedabad also (as part of Air Odishas Gujarat network plan)," Rupani told reporters on the sidelines of the event.

The airline has deployed a 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D on the Ahmedabad-Mundra-Jamnagar route.

Ahmedabad-based firms GSEC Aviation and Monarch Networth Capital have made investments in Air Odisha and Air Deccan, whose founder G R Gopinath was also present on the occasion.

An Air Deccan official said the Prime Minister is likely to inaugurate Air Odishas flight connecting Ahmedabad and Diu on February 25.

Air Odisha will also provide connectivity from Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar and Bhavnagar to Surat in coming days, the official said.

Speaking at the event, founder of Air Deccan G R Gopinath, said it was a "dream come true" moment for him to see the venture taking off.

Gopinath said his air charter company had sought permission to fly on this route in 2013 but the then UPA government did not give him the go-ahead due to political reasons.

Modi, who was then Gujarat Chief Minister, was scheduled to inaugurate the flight, said the pioneer of low- cost flying in India.

"We made announcement and hoardings were put up. Mr Modi was supposed to inaugurate it...Two days before inauguration, the aircraft (bought for this) were stopped by the then (UPA) government (in Dubai).

"There were political consideration not to allow the service to take off," alleged Gopinath.

"It dashed our dream and we lost a lot of money. I then told Mr Modi that `I will come back to Gujarat when you become the prime minister," he said.

Under the UDAN scheme, Air Odisha plans to connect cities like Bhubaneswar, Utkela, Raipur, Ranchi, Gwalior, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bhavnagar and Selam, among others. PTI KA/IAS RSY

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