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UDAN 4 to focus on hill States, islands

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Plans afoot to operationalise 1,000 routes, over 100 airports in next 5 years

Of the 688 routes awarded under the UDAN-Regional Connectivity Scheme in the last three years, only 232 are operational as of today, according to data provided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

The ministry has now launched Round 4 of UDAN-RCS and officials said that the north eastern region, hill States of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and the islands of Lakshadweep and Andamans will be treated as priority areas. MoCA officials said they now aim to operationalise 1,000 routes and over 100 airports in the next five years.

UDAN launched the scheme on October 21, 2016, presently connects to 106 airports and 31 heliports. Of these 76 are unserved airports, 20 are underserved and 10 are water aerodromes. Baramati, and Aamby Valley in Lonavala are among the 20 airports and two water aerodromes in Maharashtra.

“This would be achieved by focusing on operationalising routes in the priority areas. The Airports Authority of India would focus on developing no-frills airport in the future and routes connecting such airports would be prioritised for award of viability gap funding (VGF). The market would be incentivised to develop short haul routes only, providing connectivity to nearby airports,” officials said. Many of these routes are expected to be operationalised during the winter schedule of 2019.

The ministry has revised provisions for the cap on VGF. Under the change, the provision of VGF for aircraft having more than 20 seats has been enhanced for operation of RCS flights in priority areas. The VGF cap applicable for various stage lengths for operation through aircraft having below 20 seats has also been revised to further incentivise the operation of small aircraft under the scheme.

MoCA officials said that the provision of VGF would be restricted for routes with stage length up to 600 km, for operation of 20-seater plus aircraft and beyond it no monetary support would be provided. “Airports that have already been developed by AAI would be given higher priority for award of VGF under the scheme, followed by airports not part of the above list but located priority areas would be given a priority, followed by airports located in other areas,” officials said.

The Selected Airline Operator (SAO) would also be allowed to change the frequency of flight operation, during the tenure of flight operation of the given route provided that the total scheduled flight operation submitted as part of the technical proposal, is conformed and adhered to within a period of one year. UDAN 4 will also see the operation of helicopters in the north east and sea planes in Andamans and Lakshadweep.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 6:26:50 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/udan-4-to-focus-on-hill-states-islands/article30226365.ece

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