Pathankot, the meeting point of the three northern states of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, on Thursday joined the Udan (regional connectivity scheme) circuit, with Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh receiving the first Alliance Air Delhi-Pathankot-Delhi flight. With this, Pathankot has got operationalised as the 21st Airport under the regional connectivity scheme.
Welcoming the passengers on board the first civil flight that arrived from Delhi at the Pathankot airport shortly after noon, the CM said it was a red letter day for the region, which had now got air connectivity.
This will be the 19th route operated by Alliance Air under UDAN.
Further being at the tri-junction of Himachal and J&K, Pathankot would get a huge boost to its tremendous tourism potential as a result of the launch of the flight, which would operate every week on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, departing Delhi at 09.55 a.m. and arriving at Pathankot at 11.30 a.m, he added.
Amarinder said the government’s plans to develop an international-standard tourist destination at Pathankot-Dalhousie Road near Ranjit Sagar Lake would also give a fillip to the region’s tourism industry, as it was expected to draw more than 50,000 tourists annually.
The launch of today’s flight was the result of the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between Punjab government, Union Civil Aviation Ministry and Airports Authority of India (AAI) on 15 June, 2017, for starting flights under RCS from Ludhiana, Adampur, Bathinda and Pathankot.
Under the MoU, there are four flights already in service in Bathinda (which is now connected to Delhi and Jammu) and two in Ludhiana (connecting to Jammu). The Punjab and Central governments are working to start flights from Adampur Airport at the earliest, said the CM.
RCS is an initiative of the Civil Aviation Ministry in association with state governments to provide cheap air connectivity to the common people.
This scheme works on the principle of viability gap funding (VGF) to the airline operators for the operational losses.
While 80 per cent of VGF is borne by the Union government, 20 per cent is borne by the state governments.The Punjab government has reduced the rate of value added tax to be collected on aviation turbine fuel, to one per cent for RCS flights, and also provides security arrangements at airport terminals and to passengers free of cost to Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) and AAI.
Alliance Air continues to focus on new routes to connect regional destinations. The airline has been awarded 18 new routes under UDAN-II, which are being launched progressively this year bringing new destinations on India’s air map.