The Mumbai airport is unlikely to participate in the second round of bidding for air routes for the government’s regional connectivity scheme or UDAN because of capacity-crunch at the busy aerodrome. The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport handled 837 flights a day, or one in 65 seconds, on an average in fiscal 2016-17, becoming the world’s busiest airport with single- runway operations. According to sources, while the airport has a capacity of 45 flights per hour, it often sees an aircraft movement rate of 54. Under the regional connectivity scheme, also known as UDAN (or Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik), routes are bid out to airline operators based on certain criteria, including that related to tariff and requirement of subsidy from the government.
After stakeholder consultations, the routes and airports that would be made available for bidding are decided. Participating airports are required to provide certain incentives to the carrier concerned. The UDAN scheme aims to connect unserved and under-served airports as well as make flying affordable by offering fares capped at Rs 2,500 per hour on select routes. “Mumbai, Juhu and Safdarjung airport in Delhi are unlikely to be part of second phase of the regional connectivity scheme (RCS),” said a senior official at the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Because of slot constraints, the GVK-AAI run airport was able to accede to only six out of the total 20 requested by the government for the first round of bidding in March.
Of the total 128 routes awarded in the first round of bidding, seven routes were from Mumbai and they were granted to three carriers- SpiceJet, Air Deccan and True Jet. Low-cost carrier SpiceJet will be launching daily direct flights to Porbandar and Kandla from Mumbai from July 10.