International boost for northeast India! Under Modi government’s ambitious UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, the capital city of Assam, Guwahati, is likely to be the first one to be connected internationally with the central government finalizing bids for the Guwahati-Dhaka and Guwahati-Bangkok routes. According to a PTI report, while multiple bids were received by the central government on these two routes, there were no takers for the other four destinations namely, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Yangon in Myanmar and Kathmandu in Nepal. An Aviation Ministry official was quoted in the report saying that there was competition for these two cities. He also informed that there was more than one bid. The bid for Bangkok and Dhaka has been finalized. The official also said that the announcement will be made once the minister signs the file.
For affordable international connectivity under UDAN scheme, the state government of Assam is likely to provide a subsidy of Rs 4,400 and Rs 2,370 for a certain number of seats on flights operating on the Guwahati-Bangkok and Guwahati-Dhaka routes, respectively. According to the report, the subsidy will come from the state governments and not the central government under the international mode of UDAN scheme. Moreover, no airline will be given exclusivity over a particular route under the international mode, unlike the domestic scheme.
Last year, in the month of October, in a bid to enhance air connectivity from India to select overseas destinations, proposals were invited by the central government from interested air operators for the international scheme. In October 2016, the Modi government announced the UDAN scheme in a bid to make flying affordable with airfares fixed at Rs 2,500 for one-hour journey through subsidized ticket rates and also to provide air connectivity to smaller towns. In the first phase of the bidding in March 2017, five airlines were mandated to fly on 128 regional routes and in the second phase in January last year, fifteen airlines were mandated to fly on 325 regional routes, including those having chopper operations, the report said.