UDAN-2 to fly higher than UDAN
By Express News Service | Published: 14th November 2017 10:59 PM |
NEW DELHI: The second round of the government’s regional airport development and connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) will be more successful than its first round, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Tuesday. It added that it has received 141 initial proposals for air services, including 33 for helicopter operations, on 502 routes. Helicopter operations were not part of the first round of Regional Connectivity Ccheme (RCS) at all. Not even a single bid was received for such operations.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said the second round of bidding attracted a “very good response” and that 17 players have come up with initial proposals. The government’s scheme, where fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights, seeks to connect unserved and under-served airports. “In 70 years of Independence, we had 70 active airports. With UDAN, we will make 80 more airports active within one year,” Raju said.
The initial proposals involve 502 routes to connect 126 airports, including helipads. These include 49 unserved and 15 under-served airports as well as 24 helipads, the ministry disclosed on Tuesday. Out of the total proposals, 108 are for flying fixed wing aircraft and 33 for operating helicopters. Details of the players were not disclosed. Sources said that big market players like IndiGo and SpiceJet have applied under UDAN-2.
Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said 20 applicants who want to operate airctafts under UDAN-2 have sought no viability gap funding (VGF). Operators participating in UDAN are eligible to get viability gap funding, but operators who don’t seek VGF will get preference during final allotment of routes. “UDAN is on right track,” Raju said.
The second round of UDAN is spread across Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Bihar, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Sikkim, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Assam, West Bengal and Punjab. The proposed air services, include those to connect Haridwar, Tezpur, Tirupati, Srinagar, Shillong and Imphal.
According to the ministry, there are proposals for helicopter services to Hardwar, Almora, Joshimath and Itanagar, among other places. On November 16, these proposals will be put up for counter bidding and the players in the second round are likely to be declared by the third week of December.
In the first round of bidding, 128 routes connecting 70 airports were awarded to five airlines. From the first round, operations have commenced from 13 RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme) airports and 12 others are ready but airlines are yet to start operating flights from there, the government said. “Around 18 airports require significant upgradation and those works are expected to be completed in four months’ time,” Raju said.