Context

  • The civil aviation ministry has relaxed UDAN scheme norms on airlines and regional airports to boost regional connectivity

What is UDAN Scheme?

  • UDAN is regional air connectivity scheme (RCS) which seeks to make flying affordable by connecting unserved and under-served airports.
  • The Union Government has set up an ‘Inter- Ministerial Monitoring-cum-Coordination Committee’ to monitor the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme.
  • Under this scheme, half of the seats on the plane will be capped at Rs. 2,500 per hour’s flight. Government will subsidise the losses incurred by airlines

What are the benefits of this Scheme?

  • Inexpensive regional air connectivity under the UDAN scheme would allow travelers to save time and enable the middle-classes in small-town India to take their first flights.
  • UDAN is first-of-its-kind scheme globally that aims to create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes.
  • The scheme will help to stimulate growth (in terms of employment and investment) in the regional aviation market and connect underserved and unserved …
  • Government will provide subsidy to airlines for first three years of operations when they will have exclusive flying rights on the selected routes.

Are there any gaps in the execution?

  • Five airlines including Air India, SpiceJet, Turbo Megha, Air Odisha and Air Deccan were allotted 128 routes to fly in the first round by March, but only 16 routes have been operationalized so far
  • The ministry will still require Rs300 crore this year to subsidise the scheme of the 43 airports that were to host UDAN flights in the first round.
  • The airports that need upgradation to host flights include Kanpur, Jaisalmer, Adampur, Raurkela, Burnpur, Utkela, Jeypore, Jharsuguda, Bilaspur, Ambikapur, Jagdalpur, Mithapur, Neyveli and Solapur.

What are the Norms eased by the government?

Eased norms

  • The Ministry of aviation has abolished the 150-km minimum distance required between two airports to be qualified for operations under the scheme.
  • The norms that restricted two airports in close proximity from participating in the bidding has also been relaxed.

More frequent flights

  • Airline operators flying from these priority areas will be allowed to operate 14 weekly departures as against the limit for seven weekly flights for other routes.
  • States including, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North Eastern region, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep islands have been designated as priority areas.

Increases funding for helicopters

  • The Civil Aviation Ministry  announced increasing viability gap funding for helicopter operators, diluting exclusivity clause and relaxed other norms to facilitate more participation in its regional connectivity scheme, UDAN.
  • The government announced that all 13 passenger seats for helicopters will be considered for subsidy under the scheme.

 

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