Prime Minister Narendra Modi today flagged off the first flight under the Government of India’s first of its kind regional air connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Nagrik) from Jubbar Hatti airport near Shimla in Himachal Pradesh.
The first flight of the Alliance Airlines under the scheme would fly between Shimla-Delhi. The PM also flagged off the inaugural UDAN flights on Nanded-Hyderabad and Kadapa-Hyderabad sectors through video conferencing. While launching the scheme, PM Modi said, “The aviation sector in India is filled with opportunities. The lives of the middle class are being transformed and their aspirations are increasing. Given the right chance, they can do wonders.”
“Earlier aviation was considered to be the domain of a select few. That has changed now. We had the opportunity to frame a civil aviation policy, which caters to aspirations of the people of India,” he added.
You may be wondering what is UDAN scheme and how it will change the way you travel. So, here we give the details:
- UDAN scheme aims to provide air connectivity to the under-served and unserved airports of the country.
- UDAN is the first-of-its-kind scheme in the world that would “stimulate” regional connectivity through a “market-based mechanism, according to the government.
- The UDAN scheme aims to connect 70 airports of the country.
- Under the UDAN scheme, the airfare has been capped at Rs 2500 for a one-hour journey of approximately 500 kilometre on a fixed-wing aircraft or for a 30-minute journey on a helicopter. With cheap fligth service, you would be tempted to fly, instead of taking the time-taking train.
- Alliance Airlines has deployed its 42-seater ATR plane on Delhi-Shimla sector.
- According to a report, the Alliance Airlines would offer 35 seats on Delhi-Shimla journey and only 15 on the return journey. The price of 24 seats on the Delhi-Shimla leg is Rs 2036 each.
- The UDAN scheme also has a provision of proportionate pricing for routes of different stage lengths/flight duration.
- The government aims to achieve this affordable pricing through a) a financial stimulus in the form of concessions from Central and State governments and airport operators and (2) a Viability-Gap Funding to the interested airlines to kick-off operations from such airports so that the passenger fares are kept affordable, according to a PIB release.
- The 70 airports to be connected in under the UDAN scheme include 27 currently served airports, 12 currently under-served airports and 31 currently unserved airports. Also, 17 out of the 70 airports are in the North, 12 in East, 6 in North-East region, 11 in South and 24 in the western part of the country.
- The UDAN scheme was first launched on October 21, 2016, by Civil Aviation Minister Shri P Ashok Gajapathi Raju with an aim to develop the regional aviation market in the country. The scheme was expected to take off by January this year.
- The UDAN scheme would be in operation for 10 years.
- The government would create a “Regional Connectivity Fund” to meet the viability gap funding requirements under the scheme.
- Interested airline and helicopter operators can start operations even on hitherto “un-connected” routes by submitting proposals to the implementing agency, according to the release.
- Under the scheme, the selected airline operator would have to ensure minimum nine and maximum 40 UDAN Seats on subsidised rates on the UDAN Flights for operations through fixed wing aircraft. For helicopters, the seat reservation should be minimum of 5 and a maximum of 13 Seats on the flights for operations through helicopters. On each route, the minimum frequency would be three and maximum of seven flights per week.
- The implementing agency of UDAN scheme is Airports Authority of India.
- According to the government, the scheme had received good response from the operators. By January, 11 bidders had submitted 45 initial proposals for 200 Udan routes. These proposals covered 65 airports.