7 out of 10 seats sold on flights to smaller cities

5.24 lakh seats taken un­der UDAN scheme since April 2017

The Hindu - - FRONT PAGE - JAGRITI CHAN­DRA

For ev­ery 10 seats avail­able un­der the gov­ern­ment’s low-cost fly­ing scheme, as many as seven were grabbed by passengers since its launch last year, ac­cord­ing to data ac­cessed un­der the RTI (Right to In­for­ma­tion) Act.

Seat oc­cu­pancy, also known as pas­sen­ger load fac­tor, is an in­di­ca­tor of de­mand on a par­tic­u­lar route.

Ex­trap­o­la­tion of data sought by The Hindu through a RTI ap­pli­ca­tion shows that as many 7.5 lakh seats were made avail­able for sale by eight air­line op­er­a­tors, of which 5.24 lakh seats were sold. Th­ese fig­ures are for a pe­riod of 16 months be­tween the first flight un­der the scheme in April last year and un­til Au­gust 1, 2018.

8 air­lines, 96 routes

So far, two rounds of bid­ding have taken place for routes un­der the re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity scheme (RCS) or UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Na­grik), which aims to take fly­ing to the masses and en­hance air con­nec­tiv­ity to Tier-1 and Tier-2 cities. A to­tal of 428 routes were awarded to 17 air­line and he­li­copter op­er­a­tors. Of th­ese, eight air­lines have started flights on 96 routes, while he­li­copter ser­vices are yet to com­mence.

Air­lines have to set aside 50% of the to­tal air­craft ca­pac­ity for cheaper fares to be of­fered at the rate of ₹2,500 per hour of flight, in re­turn for which air­lines are given a sub­sidy by the Cen­tre and the State gov­ern­ment con­cerned.

The gov­ern­ment data show that the three air­lines with the high­est seat oc­cu­pancy rate are low-cost car­rier SpiceJet (81.4%), re­gional air­line TrueJet (70.7%) and Air In­dia’s re­gional arm Al­liance Air (64.9%).

Among the ma­jor do­mes­tic car­ri­ers that par­tic­i­pated in the scheme in the sec­ond round are Jet Air­ways and IndiGo, with seats sold at 59.2% and 45.6%, re­spec­tively.

The two car­ri­ers launched op­er­a­tions in the sec­ond half of this year.

Zoom Air sold 56.4% of its to­tal seats and Air Dec­can sold 53.4 %. At the bot­tom of the stack is Air Odisha, with a mere 24% seats sold.

The five most suc­cess­ful routes un­der the scheme in terms of the pas­sen­ger load fac­tor are Mum­bai-Por­ban­dar (93%), Delhi-Kan­purDelhi (91.5%), Mum­bai-Kandla-Mum­bai (91%), Delhi- Shimla-Delhi (89.5%), Del­hiA­dampur-Delhi (86%). Four of th­ese routes are op­er­ated by SpiceJet.

The routes that have flopped so far are Shil­longDima­pur-Shil­long (1%), Ahmed­abad-Bhav­na­gar-Ahmed­abad (11%), Ahmed­abadJam­na­gar-Ahmed­abad (14%), Ahmed­abad-Diu-Ahmed­abad (19%) and GwaliorIn­dore-Gwalior (35%). Air Odisha serves four of th­ese worst routes.

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