Flying High: Udan may soon link tourism centres

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New Delhi | Published: June 7, 2018 6:07:51 AM

So far an amount of Rs 214 crore has been collected on this count. Meanwhile, the ministry has also started discussion with domestic airlines on an international version of the Udan scheme.

UDAN, tourism centres, RCSUnder RCS or Udan, fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour-long flight for 50% of the seats while the balance seats can be sold at market rates. (Reuters)

After attempting to provide remote and small places with air connectivity through its regional connectivity scheme (RCS) called Udan, the civil aviation ministry now wants to extend it to major tourism centres like Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh, Hampi in Karnataka and Agra in Uttar Pradesh, among others. All in all the ministry is looking at connecting around 20 tourist destinations through the RCS.

Under RCS or Udan, fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour-long flight for 50% of the seats while the balance seats can be sold at market rates. Routes are bid out to private air operators and the ministry of civil aviation provides a viable gap funding (VGF) for the 50% seats where fares are capped. Under the routes on the tourist network, the VGF will come from the tourism ministry and not the civil aviation. Other aspects of the Udan scheme will continue like the usual commercial airlines paying a small levy to sustain such below cost operations.

So far an amount of Rs 214 crore has been collected on this count. Meanwhile, the ministry has also started discussion with domestic airlines on an international version of the Udan scheme. The Assam government had expressed interest in connecting its Guwahati airport with Southeast Asian destinations and countries like Bhutan, Bangladesh and Myanmar.

“We have had discussions with domestic airlines on having international Udan, they are very keen on it. However, there are issues like if foreign airlines can be allowed to participate in the scheme. Domestic airlines are not in favour of having foreign airlines,” the ministry said.

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