Logistics

‘UDAN scheme to increase number of airports by 50’

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

Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation

Jayant Sinha says the regional air-connectivity scheme aims at providing connectivity to all of India’s major cities

The implementation of 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 ₹2,500 for up to an hour of air journey, said Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation.

According Sinha, there are 75 small operational airports in the country, and this number will increase to over 125 with the successful implementation of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) — the new scheme through which the government hopes to make flying viable to Tier II and III cities.

“We are building new airports, adding new terminals and improving the efficiency of existing terminals,” the Minister, told BusinessLine on the sidelines of the summit.

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

Drawing reference to Jharkhand, the Minister said the Centre will be able to connect all major cities of the State in 1-2 years.

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

Affordable fares

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

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

“Viability gap funding will enable us to offer seats to passengers at ₹2,500 for up to an hour of flight,” 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, he maintained.

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.”

Published on February 17, 2017
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