UDAN Phase III Bidding this Week

October 30, 2018 12:46 am | Updated 12:46 am IST - Mumbai

The Ministry of Civil Aviation is set to invite bids for the third phase of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) also known as Udey Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) after a month-long delay this week.

The third phase is expected to see the launch of seaplanes by Spicejet. Under the earlier two phases of RCS, 56 unserved and 31 helipads have been awarded for connectivity, but operations at several of these airports are yet to take off.

Routes up for auction in this phase will include popular tourist destinations such as Mahabodhi temple in Bihar, Ajanta and Ellora in Aurangabad and Hampi in Karnataka, among others. The Ministry of Tourism had identified 12 tourist hotspots to connect under the scheme. Under RCS, an airline can choose to serve the destinations on offer from anywhere depending on its traffic feasibility studies. In this scheme, fares are capped at ₹ 2,500 for an hour-long flight for 50% of seats. The remaining seats can be sold at market rates.

“Preparations are in the final stage. We had the final stakeholders consultation meeting this week and are moving very fast. Bids will be invited this week,” a civil aviation ministry official said. The official admitted that helicopter services, which were included in the second round, are unlikely to find a place in the third round.

“Helicopter service proposals awarded under the second round are yet to take off. We don’t want to include them as of now. As for seaplanes, they will be included,” the official said. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) has already conducted a technical study on a list of 'waterdromes' where seaplanes can land.

The third round is also expected to comprise of direct routes currently funded by ministry for development of North Eastern region and over 30 tourist destinations, out of which 10 are currently not connected by air. There are 4-5 direct routes currently funded by Development of North East Region ministry and serviced by Alliance Air. Since this arrangement ends in March 2019 they will be available to the winning bidder.

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