Last-mile air connectivity could soon become a reality, with the first bunch of flights under the ‘Udan’ scheme set to get operational by next month.
The scheme UDAN – acronym for Ude Desh Ki Aam Naagrik (May the Common Man Be Able to Fly ) – was announced by the Centre last October to connect tier-two and tier-three towns to metros.
The Civil Aviation Ministry on Thursday has handed over licences to five operators who won the bid to operate on regional routes. The first towns to be connected will be Bhatinda and Shimla by April, while other small towns – from Kandla and Porbander to Salem, Bidar and Hosur – will be connected in a phased manner latest by September.
With people’s per capita income steadily rising the past few years, the aviation market in India has been soaring — in 2016, the sector saw a whopping 26% growth in passenger traffic. It is to cash in on this demand that the Ministry decided to implement a long-pending recommendation of connecting regional tier 2 and 3 cities.
“A decade back flying was a rich mans prerogative and today the scenario is changed. A common man can afford air travel,” Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju.
Five airlines – Alliance Air, Air Odisha, TruJet, Spicejet, Air Deccan – will be a part of the regional connectivity model which is based on ‘viability gap funding’. Under this, 80% of the cost will be borne by the state government and the rest by the centre. The Centre as of now has allotted Rs 205 crore to start of the process.
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