The government of India’s bidding process for 392 new routes connecting more than 400 airports kicked off last week under the UDAN – Regional Connectivity Scheme. In January this year, Travel Radar reported how smaller airports in India are contributing to the growth of air traffic. The Regional Connectivity programme is one of the flagship programmes of the Modi Government.
The Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Ms. Usha Padhee, said:
Following the four successful rounds of bidding, the special UDAN 4.1 bidding round invites bids for priority routes which have not been covered under UDAN so far. This bidding round also includes routes specially requested by the state governments/Union Territory administrations and earlier cancelled/terminated routes”.
This round of bidding is focusing on connecting small towns using smaller aircraft, seaplanes, and helicopters.
Cap on Airfares in Phase 4
In UDAN 4, the airfare for fixed-wing aircraft is capped at INR 1661 for flying the first 175 km and then increases gradually to INR 3241 for a 600 km journey. For helicopters, the fares will start from INR 2849 for a 30-minute trip and progressively advance to INR 5710 for a 1-hour ride.
The government’s viability gap funding will be available as per rules for all successful bidders.
The government has been working on connecting remote places using waterways as landing strips. A total of 16 water-based airports are planned under phase 4 of the UDAN initiative. These landing strips will come up in islands like Andaman & Nicobar, Lakshadweep, and dam reservoirs like Prakasham Barrage in Andhra Pradesh and Tehri dam in Uttarakhand.
A separate corporation, named Sagarmala Development Company Limited, has been incorporated to oversee these projects’ quick implementation.
SpiceJet already launched a trial seaplane service between Kevadia and Sabarmati Riverfront in October 2020.
Making Air Travel Affordable
The UDAN scheme envisages making air travel affordable and widespread in the country. The initiative intends to boost inclusive national economic growth, employment opportunities and air transport infrastructure development across the nation.
According to a news item in Sify, 325 routes and 56 airports, including five heliports and two water aerodromes, have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme.
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