The Ministry of Civil Aviation took a major step today towards making flying a reality for the small town common man.
The Civil Aviation Minister Shri P Ashok Gajapathi Raju launched the Ministry’s much awaited Regional Connectivity Scheme “ UDAN”.
- UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market.
- It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies. This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns.
- Shri Raju expressed hope that the first flight under the scheme would be able to take off by January next year. He said the scheme had been prepared after a lot of stakeholder consultation and called for support from all players to make it a success.
- It would provide a win-win situation for all stakeholders – citizens would get the benefit of affordability, connectivity and more jobs. The Centre would be able to expand the regional air connectivity and market. The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas, enhance trade and commerce and more tourism expansion. For incumbent airlines there was the promise of new routes and more passengers while for and start-up airlines there is the opportunity of new, scalable business. Airport operators will also see their business expanding as would original equipment manufacturers .
- The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to unserved and underserved airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports. The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years.
- The operators could seek a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) apart from getting various concessions. All such route proposals would then be offered for competitive bidding through a reverse bidding mechanism and the route would be awarded to the participant quoting the lowest VGF per Seat.
- The selected airline operator would have to provide a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 40 UDAN Seats ( subsidized rates )on the UDAN Flights for operations through fixed wing aircraft and a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 13 Seats on the Flights for operations through helicopters. On each such route, the minimum frequency would be three and maximum of seven departures per week. Route networks would also be encouraged under the scheme to achieve economies of scale and optimal usage of aircraft.
- The fare for a one hour journey of appx. 500 km on a fixed wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would now be capped at Rs. 2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different stage lengths / flight duration.
- The States have a key role under the scheme. The selection of airports where UDAN operations would start would be done in consultation with State Government and after confirmation of their concessions. It may be recalled that revival of dysfunctional airports and starting operations on unserved airports has been a long standing demand of most States and this will be addressed through UDAN to a large extent.
- The UDAN is likely to a give a major fillip to tourism and employment generation in the hinterland. Through introduction of helicopters and small aircraft, it is also likely to significantly reduce travel timings in remote and hilly regions, as well as islands and other areas of the country.
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