43 new airports to be linked under regional connectivity scheme

Thanks to the government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)–UDAN or (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik), India will soon have another 43 airports, taking up the existing number of 75 to that of 118 .

Operators are keen to start flights to 43 more airports to which there are no flights at the moment, Jayant Sinha, Minister of State for Civil Aviation said on Thursday.

Sinha said UDAN is going to be a game changer scheme and based on the first phase of bidding11 bidders have offered bids for 43 new airports.

Under its RCG scheme-UDAN, the government hopes to make flying viable to tier II and III cities for the common man. A clearer picture is likely to emerge on February 3 when the government selects the bids for operations on these routes. Sinha refused to divulge the name of the bidders.

The first flight under the Udan scheme should start next month. Cities like Jaisalmer and Bikaner in Rajasthan, Jalgaon and Akola in Maharashtra, Ludhiana in Punjab, and Shimla in Himachal may soon come on to India’s aviation map. Flights to these destinations will be subsidised through a fund where metro flyers (through a levy on airlines), state governments and the Centre will fund the corpus.

The UDAN scheme offers subsidy to airlines to operate flight to all airports with no scheduled flight presently or where the frequency of flights is very limited. It also mandates that any airline availing of the government’s subsidy should cap fares on identified routes to Rs 2,500 per hour of flying. For helicopters, this cap is Rs 5,000 for an hour of flying.

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