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Government proposes changes in UDAN scheme

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

The Civil Aviation Ministry is about to go ahead with the second round of bidding for the Regional Connectivity Scheme within six months of having awarded the bids for the first round as it is assured of the scheme's potential.

Before that, the ministry has invited suggestions from stakeholders on bringing changes to the scheme following feedback regarding operational aspects. All the documents related to the scheme will be uploaded on the website for feedback by the ministry.

In March, the bids of the first round were awarded to five selected operators. A pre-bid meet of all the stakeholders is planned in July. Ministry officials said the bids of the second round will be awarded in August.

Suggestions have been sought from airlines as to whether two served airports which are not at present connected by a flight can be classified as an RCS route. Minimum air services may be available in these Tier II and Tier III cities but they are not connected to major cities.

“For instance Lucknow and Varanasi are two airports which are served but they are not connected by a flight at present,” said Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey

second aspect on which they are seeking suggestions from the operators is whether the minimum distance that is to be covered under the RCS can be reduced to less than 150 km. The stakeholders have said the minimum stagelength may not benefit hilly terrain.

The ministry is also considering relaxing the norm of exclusivity for those who want to operate under the scheme. At present the airlines which operate have an exclusivity of three years for getting Viability Gap Funding and three years of exclusivity to operate on the RCS route.

Ministry officials have suggested that the exclusivity on RCS route may be reduced to one year. This means an operator can start operating on the same route without any Viability Gap Funding. “This will ensure healthy competition,” said an official.

At present, the minimum performance specifications are based on the number of flights which the operator caters to. The ministry has suggested that this can be translated to minimum and maximum number of RCS seats in a week. An official said this will make multiple flights possible.