Govt approves 78 new routes under Udan scheme; focus on North East, islands
Centre has approved 78 new additional routes to be awarded under the fourth round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)- ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik’ (UDAN) focusing on boosting connectivity in the North East, hilly states and islands, civil aviation ministry announced on Thursday.
The Udan is a regional airport development scheme aimed at enhancing connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country and making air travel affordable. The scheme is a key component of Centre’s National Civil Aviation Policy led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and launched in June 2016.
“Special boost is being given to connectivity in North East with routes from Guwahati to Tezu, Rupsi, Tezpur, Passighat, Misa and Shillong. People will be able to fly from Hissar to Chandigarh, Dehradun and Dharmshala under these UDAN 4 routes. Routes from Varanasi to Chitrakoot and Shravasti have also been approved. Agatti, Kavaratti and Minicoy islands of Lakshadweep have also been connected by the new routes of UDAN 4.0,” the ministry said in a statement.
Following three rounds of bidding, the civil aviation ministry, in December 2019, had launched the fourth round of the regional connectivity scheme with a focus on priority areas like North East Region, hilly states, the Union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and islands.
So far, 766 routes have been sanctioned under the UDAN scheme, 29 served, 08 unserved (including two heliports and one water aerodrome), and two underserved airports have been included in the list for the approved routes, the ministry said.
“Following the three successful rounds of bidding, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had launched the 4th round of UDAN in December 2019 with a special focus on North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands. The awarding of these 78 routes under UDAN 4 is in line with the Act East Policy of the Central Government,” Usha Padhee, aviation ministry joint secretary said.
“The airports that had already been developed by Airport Authority of India are given higher priority for the award of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the Scheme. Under UDAN 4, the operation of helicopter and seaplanes is also been incorporated. Since its inception, MoCA has operationalised 274 UDAN routes that have connected 45 airports and 3 heliports,” she added.
Under the scheme, nearly half of the seats in Udan flights are offered at subsidised fares, and the participating carriers are provided a certain amount of viability gap funding (VGF) - an amount shared between the Centre and the concerned states.