With the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) having flagged off, smaller regions in India are now looking at better air connectivity and are taking flying to the masses by capping airfares for as low as INR 2,500.
The Indian aviation industry kicked off their RCS in October 2016. ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik‘ or UDAN as the scheme is called, aims at boosting air travel between smaller cities and regions in India. Once an aspiring project, the scheme took flight today.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off flights between three important domestic corridors – the Shimla-Delhi sector, the Kadapa-Hyderabad and the Nanded-Hyderabad sector saw the very first launch.
A long stated aim of the NDA government, UDAN looks at taking flying to the masses by connecting Tier II and Tier III cities, and reopening 50 unused airports across the country.
“I want to see a person who wears a hawai chappal (slipper) fly on the hawai jahaz (aeroplane),” Modi said, in Shimla on April 27, 2017, during the launch of the Delhi-Shimla corridor, the first under the scheme.
After taking his seat as the Prime Minister of India, this is Modi’s first visit to the town of Shimla in Himachal Pradesh. While here he will also address a rally at the historic Ridge Maidan (field).
The scheme, which looks at providing affordable commuting has airfare for a one-hour journey of 500 km capped at INR 2,500, which will be an all-inclusive charge. However, the pricing may vary for longer routes and flight durations. Also, under the scheme a single person can buy nine to 40 seats on a flight. Furthermore, in order to get more people flying, service and fuel taxes have been dropped as incentive for airlines to fly less traversed routes.
The flights under the scheme will be operated by five companies that will have their services on 128 routes and will connect 70 airports across the country. The operators include SpiceJet, Air Odisha, Air India subsidiary Airline Allied Services, Air Deccan, and Turbo Megha.
The government’s arrangement with the operators demands them to block 50 pc cheap tickets while giving them the room to sell the rest at market rates. The operators, although are not too happy about this.
The Alliance Air operated Delhi-Shimla flight, that was launched during the event offered a special starting fare of INR 2,036.
An increasingly expanding market that aviation is in India, with around 70 million domestic tickets sold annually, officials are looking at a jump of up to 300 million by 2022 with the launch of the scheme.
With a run time of 10 years, the scheme is looking at supporting all air operators in their functions till they become independent and the market becomes more sustainable.