Logistics

Centre seeks comments on new UDAN norms

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 11, 2018

Set for take-off Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju (right) with Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey, at press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday   -  Kamal Narang

Four key changes likely in second round of bidding

The Centre is seeking the comments of stakeholders on four changes it plans to implement in the second round of bidding for award of rights to fly under UDAN, its regional air connectivity scheme (RCS).

These include whether the minimum distance to be flown to be eligible to fly under the scheme should be changed, and whether the exclusivity of flying on a route should be reduced to one year from the current three years. The Centre expects to award routes under the second round of RCS in August.

Comments have also been sought on what should be the minimum number of RCS seats mandated on such flights.

Currently an operator has to offer at least nine seats at a fare of not more than ₹2,500 for a one-hour flight. It is proposed that while subsidy on seats will still be on a minimum of nine seats, an airline will have the flexibility to operate say three flights a day with a four seater aircraft and claim subsidy, which is currently not the case. The government’s argument is that such a move will give greater flexibility to the players to plan the size of aircraft and their operations.

Ashok Gajapathi Raju, Civil Aviation Minister, said: “We would like to have suggestions across the board so we can benefit from the whole exercise.”

Explaining the rationale behind seeking changes in the exclusivity clause, RN Choubey, Secretary of Civil Aviation, gave the example of a point informally suggested by Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis.

“The Chief Minister pointed out that the Shirdi airport is likely to commence operations soon. If we put it under the RCS scheme, only one airline will get to fly from there. Whereas, in the assessment of the State government, there is far greater potential for Shirdi to have flights,” Choubey said.

He further said the second round of winners will be announced even before the first round of bidding is fully operationalised. Of the five airlines which won the right to operate flights under the first round of RCS in April, only Alliance Air, the regional arm of Air India, and TruJet have started operations. The rest — SpiceJet, Air Odisha and Air Deccan — are yet to launch RCS operations .

Choubey said the changes in the second round of bidding will not affect those who won routes in the first round.

Published on May 24, 2017

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