• More intra-state flights may take UDAN on government’s regional connectivity push

    The regional connectivity scheme is set to give a boost to intra-state connectivity in a number of large states in the country, as several bids under the regional connectivity scheme, or Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) plan, are favouring intra-state connectivity.

    “Looking at the bids, we can comfortably say that a number of states will get air connectivity between the state capital and various key cities in the state,” said a senior aviation ministry official, who did not want to be identified. He, however, did not reveal the names of those states, as the counter bidding process is under way.

    The official also explained that Delhi itself is going to get connected to at least ten new cities after regional flights start operations.

    Among the ten destinations, flights to two cities — Kanpur and Bhatinda — have already been started by Air India and will start charging subsidised fares of Rs 2,500 per hour of flight once they win bids for the routes.

    Analysts said that this could be a game changer, as it would generate a lot of traffic for bigger carriers too.

    “Intra-state flights would generate huge number of air fliers not just in the country but would also generate business for national airlines, which can provide onward feeds to air passengers being brought to the state capital by regional carriers,” said Mark Martin, founder and CEO of Martin Consulting.

    Martin, however, said that the scheme would have been much more effective if the government had removed some complexities.

    “The scheme today is a complex one, where there are a lot of processes before the subsidy is actually released. If the government had provided airlines subsidies on the cost of fuel, which is the highest operating cost for airlines, it would have been much more effective,” said Martin.

    The government is also hopeful of announcing the award of regional flights post March 11, after the code of conduct gets over post the announcement of election results.

    “We will be able to finish the award of routes by the first week of March. The announcement can only be made after March 11, 2017. We expect regional flights to begin by the end of March,” said the ministry official quoted above.

    The government expects that the subsidy outgo during the first year of regional operations would be to the tune ofRs 350 crore and the government would generate it by charging the airlines.  Trevor Williams Womens Jersey

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