The Central government has declared Phase-2 of the UDAN (Udega Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme adding up 325 new air routes to two and three tier countries which covers 73 un-served and non-connected airports and helipads across the country.
Under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), the government announced on Thursday that 325 routes to airlines as well as helicopter operators, enhancing air connectivity to 73 new airports and helipads in tier 2 and tier 3 cities will be introduced. For the second phase of UDAN, bidding was conducted and 15 fixed-wing operators have been granted rights for 67 proposals and four helicopter operators have been awarded 23 proposals. Among the domestic airlines who received approval – IndiGo has bagged 20 proposals, SpiceJet got 17 while Jet Airways won 4 proposals. These private companies will operate flight and chopper services to destinations like Kargil, Darbhanga, Pakyong (Gangtok), Cooch Behar, Jorhat and Almora among others.
The UDAN scheme really emphasizes on enhancing connectivity to remote and hilly terrain in the northeast and hill states like Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Manipur and Uttarakhand. Among these states, 43 airports and helipads will operate under ‘priority sector’ connecting remote and disconnected domestic airbases. Subsequently, airfare on these routes for one hour journey of 500 km on a fixed-wing aircraft flight or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would be capped at Rs 2,500. So the government will spend Rs 620 crores in providing viability gap funding or subsidy to airlines and helicopter operators for RCS flights.
Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey expressed how smaller cities will gain connectivity and said, “For the first time Kargil will have connectivity. Darbhanga is going to be connected to Bengaluru, Delhi and Mumbai. Hubli is going to be connected to nine other cities in the country. Kannur in Kerala is going to be connected to eight cities. There will be flights from Pakyong in Sikkim to Delhi, Guwahati and Kolkata. Allahabad is getting connected to 12 cities in the country.”