Prime Minister launches UDAN — from Shimla
Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched UDAN — the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) for civil aviation — from Shimla Airport on April 27, 2017. Under this scheme, flights have begun from Shimla, Nanded and Kadapa airports.
The Prime Minister addressed the gathering at Shimla Airport, and also at Nanded and Kadapa via video link.
He said the lives of the middle class are being transformed, and their aspirations are rising. He said that given the right chance, they can do wonders. He added that the aviation sector in India is filled with opportunity. Mentioning the scheme name ‘ Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN) — he said that aviation was once considered the domain of a select few, but that has changed now. He said the new civil aviation policy marks an opportunity to cater to the aspirations of the people of India. He said Tier-II and TierIII cities are becoming growth engines, and enhanced aviation connectivity between them will be beneficial. He said the UDAN scheme will help the tourism sector in Himachal Pradesh.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) is committed to providing air connectivity to currently underserved and unserved airports. To make air travel accessible to citizens in regionally important cities, the Ministry launched UDAN RCS in October 2016. The UDAN scheme was developed through extensive consideration of various issues and consultations with stakeholders. This is a first-of-its-kind scheme globally to stimulate regional connectivity through a market-based mechanism.
The UDAN scheme is a key component of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) which was released by the MoCA on June 15, 2016. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) followed a transparent bidding process by inviting interested bidders and airline operators to submit their initial proposals under the provisions of RCS and subsequently inviting counter proposals against such initial proposals. The routes and networks are awarded to bidders who submitted valid proposals and quoted the lowest Viability Gap Funding (VGF) from the government for such routes and networks.
The AAI, the implementing agency, have issued letter of awards for 27 proposals received under RCS-UDAN. Key features of the proposals awarded by AAI include:
Airports to be connected: 27 currently served airports, 12 currently underserved airports and 31 currently unserved airports (for a total of 70 airports) will be connected through these 27 proposals.
Geographical spread: There is a good geographical spread in the proposals: 24 airports in the western, 17 in north, 11 in south, 12 in east and 6 in north-eastern regions are proposed to be connected. 22 states and 2 union territories will be connected through these 27 proposals.
Routes and network: 16 awarded proposals are for single routes (connecting two cities) and 11 are for networks (connecting three or more cities). Six proposals have been bid with zero Viability Gap Funding (VGF) reflecting the fact that there is potential latent demand.
VGF Outflow: 27 proposals will require a VGF of around ` 200 crore and will provide around 6.5 lakh RCS seats.
The airfare for a one-hour journey of approximately 500 km on a fixed-wing aircraft or for a 30 minute journey on a helicopter would be capped at ` 2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different stage lengths and flight duration. The selected airline operator would have to provide 50 per cent of the flight capacity (subject to a minimum of nine and a maximum of 40) as RCS seats for operations through fixed wing aircraft and a minimum of five and a maximum of 13 RCS seats on the RCS flights for operations through helicopters and would be given a three years exclusivity of operations. To reduce the cost of operations of airlines on flying such routes, a financial stimulus in the form of concessions from Central and State government, airport operators and the VGF to the interested airlines would be provided to kick-off operations from such airports, so that the passenger fares are kept affordable. State government will provide a certain share of VGF (20 per cent for States other than north-east states where the ratio will be 10 per cent of VGF determined). In this regard, till now 19 states and three UTs have signed MoU whereas five more states have given consent to sign MoU.
PRIME MINISTER NARENDRA MODI FLAGGING-OFF THE FIRST UDAN FLIGHT BY ALLIANCE AIR (A SUBSIDIARY OF AIR INDIA) FROM SHIMLA, ON APRIL 27, 2017. THE UNION MINISTER FOR CIVIL AVIATION P. ASHOK GAJAPATHI RAJU, THE CHIEF MINISTER OF HIMACHAL PRADESH VIRBHADRA SINGH AND THE SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF CIVIL AVIATION, R.N. CHOUBEY ARE ALSO SEEN.