UDAN 2.0, an extension of the UDAN scheme might soon be extended to international flights as the government is working on fresh plans to provide affordable international flight availability and extending remote regional connectivity to international aviation network.
Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik aka UDAN scheme is Indian government’s initiative to make smaller towns and cities connected to country’s aviation network and make air ticket affordable for common man. To make this possible, the civil aviation department has launched multiple flights from airports of smaller towns and remote localities – connecting to bigger cities of India; and to make it accessible to common man, the air tickets are considerably subsidised by the government of India. Hence justifying the name “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik” which can be loosely translated to ‘Let the common man fly’. The UDAN scheme is currently implemented across India and the Centre subsidises lower fares charged by the airlines.
After successful implementation of UDAN’s domestic coverage, the government is now working on a fresh regional air connectivity scheme to connect smaller cities to neighbouring countries by incentivising airlines to operate affordable flights. The expression of plans for extension of UDAN were made by Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey during the press conference at the Wings India 2018 summit. However, unlike the ongoing UDAN scheme in which the Centre subsidises lower fares charged by the airlines, in the international version it will be the state governments that provide subsidies while the Centre will facilitate the bidding rounds.
After bidding process is completed, it will be up to the government to decide whether they will fix a fare for the routes so to speak, or whether they will allow the fares to float in the market and allow minimum subsidy to be charged. Furthermore, the northeastern state of Assam has taken a lead in ‘UDAN Version 2’ by allocating ₹100 crore for three years for carriers willing to participate in the scheme. But it will still take some time as the Indian government will require to entail bilateral agreements with the destination countries about the scheme and slots and airline services available on their end.