7 out of 10 seats sold on flights to smaller cities
5.24 lakh seats taken under UDAN scheme since April 2017
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.