Govt eases norms under UDAN 2

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on January 09, 2018


The Government hopes to announce the airlines which have won the right to operate flights in its second round of bidding under the regional air connectivity scheme (RCS) by November 30 this year.

Operators will be able to decide from about 350 airports and landing strips to operate RCS flights in the second round of bidding. The actual number of airports could increase as helicopters are able to land in places other than an airport or landing strip.

Under the scheme an operator is entitled to receive funds from the government in the form of viability gap funding (VGF) if a fixed number of seats on the flight are sold at a fare of up to ₹ 2,500.

Ashok Gajapathy Raju, Union Civil Aviation Minister, told the media on Thursday that the Government came up with additional concessions during the second round of bidding, including doing away with the stipulation that two airports have to be 150 km away from each other to qualify for the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) flights, especially in difficult and remote areas, and giving more sops to helicopters, including enhancing the VGF caps for them under UDAN-2.

UDAN-2 also defines the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern region, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands as priority areas. An operator flying from the priority areas will be allowed to operate 14 weekly departures from the same RCS airports and qualify for getting VGF. For other routes covered under RCS, the limit remains seven weekly flights.

To encourage helicopter operations the Government has proposed that all seats up to 13 passenger seats for helicopters will be considered as RCS seats and will be covered under VGF. For fixed wing aircraft to qualify under RCS, at least nine seats have to be priced at an all-inclusive fare of ₹2,500.

R.N. Choubey, Secretary Civil Aviation, said additional sops have been given to helicopters to give a boost to connectivity in priority areas.

While retaining the exclusivity clause, which allows only one operator to fly on a particular route for three years, the Ministry has proposed that select airline operators may issue no-objection certificates to other airline operator (s) willing to operate on the respective RCS route.

The government had unveiled its regional connectivity scheme in early July last year, which caps airfares at ₹2,500 for a one-hour flight to unserved and under-served airports that are 476-500 km apart.

Commenting on the progress made in the first round of bidding under RCS, the Minister said till September this year, 21 unserved/ underserved airports had been connected. He added that the first round of bidding under the UDAN scheme has been successful even though there was no significant capacity addition. ``Before the second round of bidding, a significant capacity addition will happen. Another 100 aircraft suitable for RCS orders have been placed,” Choubey added.

Published on August 24, 2017

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