Logistics

Regional air connectivity to bring down cost of flying to Rs 2,500 an hour: Sinha

Abhishek Law Ranchi | Updated on January 13, 2018 Published on February 17, 2017

sinha

The regional air connectivity scheme, UDAN, will see the number of operational airports in the country shoot up by over 50, while the cost of travelling will come down to as low as Rs 2,500 up to an hour of journey (via air).

According to Jayant Sinha, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, there are 75 operational small airports in the country and this number will increase to “over 125” with the successful implementation of UDAN (acronym for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) – the new scheme through which the government hopes to make flying to Tier-II and III cities viable.

“We are building new airports, adding new terminals. We are improving the efficiency of existing terminals. The regional connectivity scheme will see us go from 75 operational airports to over 125,” the minister told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the Momentum Jharkhand Global Investors’ Summit.

“We have significantly stepped up investments in airports,” he added, pointing out that Jamshedpur was one such region that was proposed to be connected through UDAN.

Drawing a reference to Jharkhand, the minister said “in a year or two” the Centre will be able to connect all major cities of the state.

“Our goal is to provide connectivity to all of India’s major cities,” the minister maintained.

Affordable pricing

With traffic growing by over 20 per cent, there will obviously be “capacity constraints” but the Centre is taking all possible actions to ensure decongestion and utilisation of existing capacities.

According to Sinha, the cost of flying is coming down because of technology. And if oil prices remain at “reasonable levels’, it would be one of the cheapest modes of transport after Railways.

“Viability gap funding will enable us to offer seats at Rs 2,500 up to an hour of flight. So it will be very affordable,” he said.

Private airliners, Sinha maintained, will obviously take a call on the routes depending on commercial viability. And the introduction of viability gap funding will only boost connectivity, making many more routes viable.

Tech Disruption

Disruption in mass transport is also on the cards with companies such as Hyperloop proposing new-age rapid transit options.

Asked whether such proposals might lead to disruptions in regional air connectivity schemes, Sinha said these technologies are still “futuristic” and yet to see “mass adoption”.

“These are futuristic technologies that (are) decades away from being adopted in the mass market. We welcome innovations and new futuristic technologies. But regional connectivity will be available very soon,” he added.

Published on February 17, 2017
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