Big leap for cheap flight scheme UDAN as airlines rush to grab a pie of skies

By: | Published: November 22, 2017 12:24 PM

The government’s regional air-connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) aimed to provide opportunity to the masses to fly with fiscal incentives is soaring high as airlines rush to grab a pie of the skies.

The second round of bidding under UDAN scheme is receiving a stellar response. (Image: Reuters)

The government’s regional air-connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) aimed to provide opportunity to the masses to fly with fiscal incentives is soaring high as airlines rush to grab a pie of the skies. The second round of bidding is receiving an overwhelming response, and as many as 141 initial proposals from 17 players have been received. In the first round of bidding, 128 routes that would connect 70 airports were awarded to five airlines and some of them are yet to start operations. Against this backdrop, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey told PTI yesterday that the performance of airlines that have won routes in the first round would be taken into account while deciding on award of routes in the second round. 

“If we find that their (airlines) progress is not up to the mark, then we will not rush into awarding any route in the second round of bidding if they have won. We would like to link their performance and progress in the first bidding round to any route that they may have won in the second round of bidding,” R N Choubey said yesterday. Five airlines, including SpiceJet, had won bids to operate on 128 routes connecting 70 airports in the first round of RCS bidding. Air Odisha Aviation got maximum number of 50 routes followed by Air Deccan (34) and Turbo Megha Airways (18), say PTI reports. The Air India subsidiary Airline Allied Services bagged 15 routes while SpiceJet won bids for 11 routes.

However, Air Deccan and Air Odisha are yet to start operations on account of various factors, including issues related to availability of slots. Air Odisha and Air Deccan are expected to commence significant part of their operations by December 15, RN Choubey said.

UDAN is the first-of-its-kind scheme in the world that would “stimulate” regional connectivity through a “market-based mechanism,” according to the government.The scheme aims to connect 70 airports of the country. The fare has been capped at Rs 2500 for a one-hour journey of approximately 500 kilometre on a fixed-wing aircraft or for a 30-minute journey on a helicopter.

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