The Centre will provide a higher subsidy support to airlines operating smaller aircraft in a bid to make its regional connectivity scheme more attractive, Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said.
“For the same distance, we will provide significantly higher subsidy to an airline operating a 20-seater aircraft than to a 40-seater or a 70-seater aircraft,” Mr. Choubey said, adding the subsidy would be about 30 per cent more for such smaller planes.
The Civil Aviation Ministry had recently organised its first pre-bid meeting of the regional connectivity scheme (RCS). “Higher subsidy was one of the few demands. We also did our calculations and found that the proposed subsidy was not adequate for smaller aircraft,” Mr. Choubey said.
Under the scheme, the government will provide three-year subsidy to fund the losses of airlines so that they offer airfares at Rs.2,500 for an hour’s flight on half the number of seats. For providing subsidies, the Centre has set up a regional connectivity fund, 80 per cent of which will be financed by levying a cess on other domestic routes, except for those in the north-eastern states and regional sectors and the rest will flow from the states.
The Centre aims to collect about Rs.400 crore for the regional connectivity fund every year, to be used to promote regional air connectivity.
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said that the national civil aviation policy, along with RCS, is expected to increase the number of functional airports to 150-200 in the next few years. At present, 69 airports across the country receive commercial flights.
The Centre on Friday launched an ‘Air Sewa’ portal for registering complaints of air passengers against airlines and airports. Passengers will be able to check flight status, register complaints and check complaint status on the Air Sewa website and mobile application.
Complaints related to flight delays, baggage loss and unusually long periods for refunds along with long queues at airports can be registered by passengers in this portal, Mr. Sinha said at an event here.