In the second round of bidding for UDAN under the government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) announced that IndiGo and Jet Airways are the top bidders who were awarded 325 routes.
IndiGo and Jet Airways are among the players awarded 325 routes in the second round of UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) bidding. SpiceJet and Alliance Air, which had joined the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) in the first round itself, also got more routes.
“In the second round, we have given RCS routes to helicopter operators also. In all, we got 141 proposals for 502 routes (for both planes and choppers). Letters of award have been given to 90 proposals for 325 routes. Out of these, 129 routes are in a newly created category of ‘priority areas’ that include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Uttarakhand, North East, Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep Islands,” RN Choubey, secretary of Civil Aviation said.
In the first round of UDAN where fares are capped at INR 2,500 for an hour of flying in a plane for a specified number of RCS seats on each flight, 128 routes were awarded last March. But only 40 pc of those have got operational till now as two airlines — Air Deccan and Air Odisha, which got 84 of those routes are yet to start flying on a majority of them. SpiceJet and Alliance Air started operating the routes given to them.
Now with IndiGo and Jet also joining RCS, more routes will get operational. IndiGo has got 20 routes Kannur-Bengaluru; Kannur-Trivandrum; Cochin-Hubli-Goa; Bangalore-Allahabad-Pune; Nagpur-Bhubaneswar-Allahabad; Mumbai-Allahabad; Hindon-Allahabad-Dehradun; Hindon-Gorakhpur-Allahabad and Hindon-Jaisalamer-Udaipur.
SpiceJet was awarded 20 new sectors. Out of these 20, 15 will cater to unserved markets of Kannur (Kerala), Darbhanga (Bihar), Ozar (Nashik), Pakyong (Sikkim) and Kishangarh (Rajasthan).
Alliance Air has got 18 routes like Nashik-Ahmedabad-Kandla; Hyderabad-Kohlapur; Hubli-Hyderabad; Bikaner-Jaipur and Jammu-Bhatinda. Jet has got four proposals but it did not specify the number of routes.
This time helicopter operations, with fares capped at INR 2,500 for a 30-minute journey have been awarded under UDAN-II. Uttarakhand has got the maximum routes with New Tehri and Almora getting chopper services; followed by Arunachal, Himachal, Assam and Manipur.
In all, these flights will cover 78 airports, of which 29 are currently unserved and 31 helipads or heliports in the priority areas. These routes will have to be started within six months in 75 pc of these places as airports or helipads in remaining need some time to be ready for flights.
These proposals will require a viability gap funding of INR 4.87 billion per annum for plane operations and INR 1.3 billion per annum for helicopter flights in priority areas. The government levies a regional cess of INR 5,000 per non-regional flight to create an RCS fund to provide the VGF.
“We will not increase this cess on flights. The remaining amount will come thanks to the finance ministry allowing us to retain a part of dividend paid by profitable Airports Authority of India to the government. This fiscal we retained INR 2 billion of that dividend and next fiscal we will need INR 5 billion,” Choubey concluded.