Logistics

'Regional connectivity will enable a large chunk of the population to fly'

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on January 17, 2018

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There is no financial burden on the Centre: Aviation Secretary RN Choubey

Soon after the draft Regional Connectivity Scheme was put in the public domain, R.N. Choubey, Secretary Civil Aviation, met with BusinessLine to explain its finer details. Edited excerpts. 

 

How is the latest draft Regional Connectivity Scheme different from what the Vajpayee and the Manmohan Singh Governments had rolled out for enhancing regional air connectivity? 

The very fact that this regional connectivity is a part of the manifesto I was delighted. It strengthened my hands.

The very fact that the Government at the political and government level has given a huge push to regional connectivity (makes it different).

RCS routes will typically be small aircraft.

When previous governments spoke about regional connectivity it was without any burden on the Centre. Now the proposal is for sharing the burden in the ratio of 80 per cent for the Centre and 20 per cent for the states?

There will be no burden even now. When you say Centre, what we need to understand is that it is not from the Consolidated Fund of India. 

But it will come from a sector which is already growing. Some levy will be imposed, will be administered to provide regional connectivity. Is it correct to use that growth to funnel growth somewhere else?

Yes , it is. Suppose we had used only the budgetary funds as money had to come from somewhere, then there could have been a question ‘why are you using budgetary funds for subsiding air travellers?’ We are going to be using the fund generated by one class of air travellers to fund regional connectivity of another class of air travellers. So this is the best possible deal.

To avail of VGF the fare has to be up to Rs 2,500 for a radius of 500 km. How many people will be in a position to avail of an airfare of Rs 2,500? 

Many.

Is there any estimation?

When we were preparing the draft policy we interacted widely with airlines because they are the ones who would have the numbers and airlines said Rs 2,500 for one hour of flying will ensure that the planes get filled. 

Airlines are loathe to have a multi-aircraft fleet. Will the existing airlines largely having Boeing 737or Airbus 320 aircraft, be able to make use of this proposal?

Regional connectivity has different economics. Per force it has to be very small aircraft and short flights.  

Who is the scheme targeted at? Those who use trains? Or is it a new segment that you are hoping to create?

The scheme has been designed to enable a significant part of the Indian population to fly. The population which has disposable income but today cannot fly because regional flying is just not happening. 

Published on July 03, 2016

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