• New places, newer planes

    2017 promises to be action-packed for domestic flyers right from the start. This is mainly because of the government’s ambitious Udey Desh Ka Aam Nagrik, or UDAN scheme, which wants to take aviation to those living in Tier II and Tier III cities.

    The UDAN scheme is part of the National Civil Aviation policy that was released by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in July 2016. One of the main objectives of the policy is to enhance regional air connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development.

    The Centre has fixed January 27, 2017 as D-day for opening the technical bids for players interested in operating under UDAN. While the date for selection has not been announced yet, it is expected to be soon as the proposal has the backing of the who’s who in the government.

    The Centre and States have come forward to provide subsidies to those operators who are willing to offer an one-hour flight between Tier II and Tier III cities at ?2,500. Maharashtra, Gujarat, Puducherry, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Uttrakhand are among the 11 States and Union Territories that have signed up for UDAN.

    Needless to say the scheme is expected to see the entry of new players. Analysts feel that for the scheme to be successful and viable a small aircraft having the capacity to seat about 20 passengers per flight is ideal. New operators are expected to induct such aircraft in their fleet for starting operations. Andrew Whitworth Jersey

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