Wings clipped: AAI cancels 84 licenses of Air Odisha, Deccan Charters

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New Delhi | Updated: November 26, 2018 6:50 AM

Air Odisha and Deccan Charters were allotted the routes in March 2017 and scheduled to start operations within six months or by September 2017.

UDAN is the government’s regional connectivity scheme.

Airports Authority of India (AAI) has cancelled 58 licences of regional carriers Air Odisha and Deccan Charters who between them were awarded 84 routes under the UDAN scheme.

Most of these routes connect smaller towns in Chhattisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Odisha. Guruprasad Mohapatra, chairman, AAI, told FE, licences given to these airlines for flights on metro routes —Delhi and Mumbai — have also been cancelled.

UDAN is the government’s regional connectivity scheme. Senior AAI executives said the routes have been cancelled because the airlines were unable to either start or sustain operations. In addition, AAI has served Air Odisha and Deccan Charters notices for cancellation for the remaining 26 routes. The carriers are yet to kick off operations in these 26 geographies, including Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh and some north-eastern sectors.

This leaves only one regional carrier, TruJet, operating flights under UDAN. AAI had awarded 128 routes to five airlines in March 2017 in the first phase of UDAN scheme. Currently, 54 of the routes given to SpiceJet and Alliance Air are operational. IndiGo and Jet Airways also operate UDAN flights since they were given licences in Phase II of the programme.

Air Odisha and Deccan Charters were allotted the routes in March 2017 and scheduled to start operations within six months or by September 2017. While there was an initial delay because some airports were not ready, AAI executives said this problem was subsequently addressed. “Even after the airports were ready, they did not commence operations and we can’t give any more extensions,” he said.
Deccan Charters, promoted by Captain Gopinath, first operated the Mumbai-Jalgaon stretch, according to the ministry of civil aviation website, on December 23, 2017.

Similarly, Air Odisha commenced with the Ahmedabad network in February this year. It plied aircraft on 16 routes, but AAI executives said the flights were infrequent. “The airlines would suddenly withdraw from the routes after a few weeks without any valid reasons. Right now, neither airline is operating any Udan routes,” the official added.

Aviation consultancy firm CAPA India had forecast that regional airlines’ participation in the RCS made little business sense given huge cost structure of the airline business. “The success of Udan depends on the participation established airlines. It does not make a business case for small and independent operators without scale,” CAPA had noted earlier.

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