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Regional flight link plan hits air pocket in Rajasthan

The implementation of the regional air connectivity scheme, UDAN, is facing delays in Rajasthan with operations yet to take off from at least three airports.

jaipur Updated: Apr 23, 2018 22:51 IST
Manoj Ahuja
Manoj Ahuja
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
UDAN,Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik,Rajasthan
First flight from Kota to Delhi started from Kota Airport on Wednesday.HT FILE PHOTO(HT File)

The implementation of the regional air connectivity scheme, UDAN, is facing delays in Rajasthan with operations yet to take off from at least three airports.

UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) seeks to connect unserved and underserved airports in the country. Rajasthan has 18 state-owned airfields apart from airports owned by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), defence airfields and private airstrips.

More than six months after Kishangarh airport was inaugurated, passengers are still awaiting launch of flights to New Delhi and Jaipur. The Kota-Delhi flights launched by a private airline have also been suspended, apparently because of lack of approvals.

There is no clarity on when the proposed launch of flights from Uttarlai in Barmer to New Delhi will start. Proposed flights from Bhilwara and Sri Ganganagar to New Delhi are also yet to take off.

As of now, private airlines are operating flights from Jodhpur, Udaipur, Bikaner and Jaisalmer to New Delhi. Airlines are, however, hopeful of starting flights from Kishangarh and Kota soon.

“The Jaipur-Kota-Delhi-Kishangarh is the same route. While we have all the approvals, the operations are stuck because two officials of Airports Authority of India raised some issues that have no logical basis. We expect the issues to be resolved within in a week and to start the flights by month-end,” Supreme Aviation vice-president Aakash Agrawal said.

In the second round of bidding under UDAN, Spice Jet has been awarded Delhi-Kishangarh-Delhi route with a frequency of seven flights per week, but the flights have not yet started. The airline is in talks with the airport authority over the issue.

The Rajasthan government has ambitious plans to start aviation services connecting all major heritage properties, forts and palaces, which means air connectivity from all the districts, said Captain Keshri Singh, Rajasthan civil aviation director.

The desert state is working on plans to upgrade the existing airstrips to boost air connectivity. These include strengthening, extension and licensing of state-owned airstrips to make them compatible for regular commercial flight operations.

Under UDAN, the Centre provides subsidy to airlines for first three years of operations when they will have exclusive flying rights on the selected routes. The Centre subsidises the losses incurred by airlines flying out of dormant airports to help airlines charge Rs 2,500 for an hour’s flight to passengers.

The Centre had asked airlines to submit their proposed routes along with subsidy amount required to operate regional flights. This was followed by counter-bids from other airlines and those asking for the least financial support won the bid.

First Published: Apr 23, 2018 22:51 IST