Thursday, August 24, 2017

Centre relaxes subsidised regional flight norms to attract more players

New Delhi: Providing a fillip to its regional connectivity scheme RCS), the government has relaxed a few norms to attract more airlines and helicopter operators. In the second round of bidding, the aviation ministry has diluted the exclusivity clause that allowed only one winning airline to fly on a route for some time. And, the rule that the two origin and destination airports must be 150 km apart to qualify for RCS - under which fares are capped at Rs 2,500 per hour of flying -- has also been relaxed.
"We have increased the viability gap funding for helicopters. The way their flight time is calculated has also been made more realistic. We expect this to lead to improved connectivity in priority areas of Jammu and Kashmir, northeast India, Himachal Pradeah, Uttarakhand, Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep. The first round of bidding was very successful. Airlines have ordered 100 regional planes and we expect the second round of bidding to be even more interesting," aviation secretary RN Choubey said on Thursday. IndiGo will buy 50 ATRs and SpiceJet has signed a letter of intent for 50 Bombardier Q400 regional planes.
This year about Rs 300 crore will be required for viability gap funding of UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) flights. In the first round of bidding, 128 city pairs were awarded to five airlines. So far, only 16 routes have taken off as the biggest winners in the last round of bidding - Air Odisha and Air Deccan - are yet to start flying. The other three winners, including Air India and SpiceJet, have started UDAN flights.
24/08/17 Saurabh Sinha/Times of India