NEW DELHI: With a view to connecting tourist destinations in the country, the ministry of civil aviation has opened bids for the third phase of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). In the third round of bidding, the ministry of tourism has proposed 46 routes to be connected in the coming months.
The third phase will also see the launch of seaplanes at water aerodromes. There are 10 water aerodromes, located in Gujarat, Assam, Uttrakhand, Maharashtra and Telangana, including one at the Statue of Unity near Sardar Sarovar Dam in Gujarat.
Under the earlier two phases of RCS, 56 unserved and 31 helipads have been awarded for connectivity, but operations at several of these airports have not yet taken off, and these airports are expected to see operation under Phase III.
Officials said that connecting tourism spots was the main focus under Phase III of the RCS, and the list of routes proposed by the ministry of tourism included places such as Agra, Bhopal, Jhansi, Bodhgaya, Mysore, Kullu, Dharamshala and other places. In total there are 60 new routes which have been identified by the ministry of civil aviation for operation of RCS flights under Phase III. Apart from this, there are eight routes in the north-eastern region.
Under RCS, an airline can serve the destinations on offer from anywhere depending on its traffic feasibility studies. In this scheme, fares are capped according to the distances between the two destinations for 50 per cent of seats and the remaining seats can be sold at market rates. These seats are subsidized with the help of the viability gap funding (VGF) provided by the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Officials said that the government has collected about Rs 268 crore levy from various airlines towards the RCS scheme. The scheme, also known as 'Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik', seeks to connect unserved and under-serve airports. To fund the scheme, an amount of Rs 5,000 is collected from airlines on every flight operated on major routes.