Bhopal and Indore airports in Madhya Pradesh got international terminals over three years ago, but both are still waiting for “acche din” to receive international flights.
The situation remains the same despite a high-profile meeting between Union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, industries minister Yashodhara Raje, public and private airlines representatives and travel and tour operators on the issue a year ago.
Raja Bhoj Airport in Bhopal has got the international terminal ready since June 20, 2011 and Ahilya Bai Airport in Indore since February 14, 2012.
However, airlines officials cite inadequate passenger load as the reason for not starting international operations from Bhopal and Indore.
On September 25, 2014 union civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had arrived in Bhopal with a retinue of officials and representatives of airlines, both private and public, and discussed the ways to expand the airlines services in the state and start international passenger and cargo operations.
He had even praised the state government for reducing VAT on the aviation turbine fuel (ATF) and said that this would promote airline connectivity in the state. However, the two airports still have no international flights.
Officials said at present Bhopal had direct connections with only Mumbai, Delhi and Ahmedabad with a Bhopal to Hyderabad flight via Mumbai.
Both Bhopal and Indore have a large number of people working in the gulf countries and yet no international flights, passengers said, expressing shock and wonderment.
"There are a lot of people from Bhopal working in the UAE and Saudi Arabia. Dubai in the UAE is also a tourist destination. Last year there was a government of MP investment meet in Dubai in which many hopes were raised about airlines starting operations to Madhya Pradesh. Why have those not fructified?" said Fowad Arif, who belongs to Bhopal but works in Sharjah in the UAE.
“Airline representatives claim that there isn't enough passenger load to warrant an international flight from Bhopal or Indore. However, there are at least 30-35 passengers for destinations from Bhopal and Indore every day. If international airlines fly via Bhopal or Indore they will not only get passengers for gulf destinations, but also get traffic for destinations beyond the gulf,” said Harish Wadhwani, president, travel agents association of India (TAI) MP and CG chapter.