The central Government’s UDAN scheme, designed to promote domestic connectivity and increase flights, today got a fillip as 128 more routes were added to the roster. Five airlines are now on board which will operate on 128 new routes. Under this regional connectivity scheme, domestic flight fares are capped at Rs. 2,500. These will all be one-hour flights.
Reports suggest that the UDAN scheme, which stands for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik, will serve over 45 unserved and under-served airports. The aim of the scheme is two-fold: it will allow better connectivity to those people who normally do not book flight tickets due to the prohibitive prices and it will ensure a more connected country.
The Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey today announced the winners of the scheme, which will be subsidised heavily by the government. The official also claimed that a total of 128 routes are to be awarded to a total of five operators. The chosen operators are Allied Airline Services, which is a subsidiary of the national carrier Air India, SpiceJet, Air Odisha, Air Deccan, and Turbo Megha.
The UDAN scheme will be based on smaller aircraft. It is expected that only aircraft with a seating capacity of between 19-78 will be eligible under the scheme. Some of the airports which are set to be connected under the UDAN scheme will include Bhatinda, Puducherry, and Shimla. 50 percent of all seats in each flight will have a cap of Rs. 2,500 per seat/hour. The UDAN business model works on the government extending viability gap funding.
The amount of money estimated to be paid by the Government is estimated to be around Rs. 205 crores per annum for those operators chosen in the first round of bidding. Jayant Sinha, who is the Minister of State for Civil Aviation, also stated that the scheme provides finances for various benefits which includes zero airport charges besides three-year exclusivity on the routes.