October 28 The Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) and the Airport Authority of India (AAI), signed an Operation and Management (O&M) agreement on Friday to facilitate commercial operations from Rourkela, Odisha, an official statement said.

The AAI, on behalf of SAIL-Rourkela Steel Plant, will operate and manage the airport.

The airport becomes operational ahead of the forthcoming Hockey World Cup due in January 2023. Rourkela will host 20 of the 44 matches of the World Cup.

The global event is expected to witness a huge footfall in Rourkela during the period and the requirement for air connectivity to the city will be a major necessity for logistical reasons, the statement said.

In 2018, SAIL had signed an MoU for the use of its own airport, under the UDAN scheme, for the operation of commercial flights. Now, SAIL has signed the O&M contract with AAI, through its Rourkela Steel Plant, to facilitate the commencement of commercial flights from Rourkela.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation has provided financial support for the upgrade of this airport, the statement said adding that the Odisha government will provide the security, fire, and ambulance services and also help with other local clearances.