Wednesday, May 17, 2017

3 years of Modi govt: UDAN commendable but little else has changed in aviation

New Delhi: A report card on the three years of Modi government, as far as the civil aviation sector is concerned, must rate it on whether flying became easier and more affordable for the aam aadmi, whether airlines’ cost of operations came down, aviation infrastructure across the country was improved and whether Air India stopped guzzling taxpayers’ money. Well, the government must be patted on its back in launching UDAN, which aims to ease aam aadmi’s air travel woes at subsidised fares while attempting to breathe life into some of India’s vast network of ghost airports. On most of the other counts, though, the government has missed the bus.
UDAN: The most talked about, indeed one of the most important achievements of the Modi government, has been the launch of UDAN flights. A regional connectivity scheme was envisaged under the UPA regime as well, with some regional flights launched by individual airlines, but there was no centrally sponsored scheme with targeted subsidy to get the aam aadmi to board an aircraft from India’s hinterland. In UDAN (an acronym for Ude Desh Kaa Aam Naagrik), the Modi government has once again showed its socialist leanings by asking the scheduled airlines and metro passengers to pay up so that the marginalised small towner can fly. Though the big daddies of Indian aviation such as IndiGo, SpiceJet and GoAir have protested the levy, UDAN seems to have taken off well in the first phase.
The first flight under UDAN from Shimla to Delhi was launched last month with maximum 24 seats on subsidised fare on the Delhi-Shimla leg at a flat price of Rs 2,036. The subsidy amount for this flight is Rs 3,340 per seat. So even though 11 remaining seats on the ATR aircraft being used on Delhi-Shimla leg will be priced much higher than the flat fare for the first 24 seats, it still makes sense for the flyer since the fare is reasonable and cuts travel time etc significantly. This also breathes life back into the moribund Shimla airport.
17/05/17 Sindhu Bhattacharya/First Post

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