CENTRAL GOVERNMENT LAUNCHES SCHEME FOR LOW-COST REGIONAL FLIGHTS

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi has launched the UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) scheme from Jubbarhatti, an airport on the outskirts of Shimla. ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik’ means ‘the common man flies’. He flagged of the first UDAN flight under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) on Shimla-Delhi sector.

The UDAN flights on Kadapa–Hyderabad, and Nanded-Hyderabad sectors were also flagged off. Around 45 unserved and under-served airports are set to be connected under UDAN scheme to make flying more affordable. The airports to be connected under UDAN include Bhatinda, Bhavnagar, Durgapur, Jaisalmer, Puducherry, and Shimla.

Under this scheme, five operators will operate flights services on 128 routes that will connect 70 airports through 19-78 seater aircrafts. The operators are Air India subsidiary Airline Allied Services, Air Deccan, Air Odisha, Turbo Megha, and Spice Jet. As per the modalities of the scheme, airfare for a one-hour journey of 500 km has been capped at an all-inclusive charge of Rs. 2,500. For longer routes and flight duration, the pricing will vary. A single person will be entitled to buy 9 to 40 seats in a flight.

However, only 50% of the seats will be sold at Rs. 2,500 per seat per hour. The airlines can sell the rest of the tickets at market rates. The UDAN scheme will make flying easier and affordable for the common man. It is hailed as the first-of-its-kind scheme globally to stimulate regional connectivity through a market-based mechanism. The UDAN network will cover the whole country.

Accordingly, 24 airports in the western region, 17 airports in the northern region, 11 in the southern region, 12 in east and 6 in north-eastern parts of the country are proposed to be connected under UDAN. The scheme is expected to have positive effects on the economy in terms of employment and investment. The scheme will also promote tourism and balanced regional growth.

The scheme was launched in October 2016. It is considered as a vital component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was released on June 15, 2016. The scheme has been launched to provide connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing air-strips and airports.

This is first of its kind scheme and will be implemented for a period of 10 years. As of now, 128 routes have been identified and declared in the RCS map of India. The key objective of the UDAN scheme is to provide regional connectivity so that persons in regional towns are able to take affordable flights.

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