Second round of bidding under UDAN scheme may take off within 3 months: Jayant Sinha

The UDAN or regional connectivity scheme seeks to improve the air accessibility of Tier-2, Tier-3 & Tier-4 cities at an affordable cost. Nearly, 50 per cent of the seats on every flight across these routes are capped at Rs. 2,500 per seat for up to an hour of journey.

According to the minister, the modalities and the routes for the second round will be decided through a bidding process.

“The second round of bidding for regional connectivity should happen in another three months time,” Sinha said on the sidelines of an interactive session organised by the Bharat Chamber of Commerce (BCC) here in the city.

After the bidding process is completed, airlines or operators will be given another six months time to start the operations across these routes.

The first round of bidding under the UDAN scheme saw 128 routes being awarded to five operators that include Alliance Air, Air Deccan, Air Odisha, Trujet and SpiceJet.

“Hopefully, there will be more operators bidding this time round,” Sinha added.

Among the routes in Bengal, there will be flights connecting Kolkata to Burnpur (in Paschim Bardhman district), Andal (in Paschim Bardhaman district) and Cooch Behar (in North Bengal). This apart, there will be Cooch Behar to Bagdogra flights. All routes will be operated by Air Deccan.

Similarly, there will be flights to Kolkata from Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) and Rourkela (in Odisha) with Air Deccan being the operator. Operations across all routes of Bengal are scheduled for a tentative start in July.

Increased airports

According to the minister, the regional connectivity scheme will see an increased number of operational airports in the country.

The first round saw 33 new airports being added to an existing list of 75 thereby taking the number up to 108.

“We hope that there will be 200 operational airports in India over a period of time,” Sinha said.

Currently, India’s domestic passenger count annually stands at 100 million.

“Assuming a modest 12 to 13 per cent growth every year, the domestic passenger count is likely to see a 50 per cent jump in 4 years,” he pointed out.

The Ministry is also looking at a public-private-partnership model for operation and maintenance of airports at Jaipur and Ahmedabad. International and domestic players have already bid for it and the contracts are expected to be awarded by July, the Minister said.

Source: Hindustan Businessline

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