Monday, October 30, 2017

PM Modi's Udan hits air pocket

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet project Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), an ambitious scheme to connect Tier II and Tier III cities in India with affordable airfare, has flown into turbulent weather. Air Deccan and Air Odisha, the two airlines which were awarded more than half of the 128 routes on offer, were expected to launch their operations by September 30, but have now rescheduled their deadline to December 15.
Though Civil Aviation Ministry and Airport Authority of India officials (AAI) were tight-lipped about the delay, AAI's reply to an RTI query on October 18 revealed that both Air Deccan and Air Odisha, which were given the Letter of Award on March 30, were yet to sign the mandatory agreement under UDAN.

When contacted by Mumbai Mirror for his response, Capt GR Gopinath, the low-cost-airline pioneer whose Air Deccan was expected to return to aviation with a bang, said his airline had signed all necessary agreements a week ago but admitted that there were delays as a few remote airports still remained to be brought under air connectivity.

Capt Gopinath also launched a scathing attack on privately-run GVK run Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) and GMR-run Delhi International Airport Ltd (DIAL) describing them as the “biggest roadblocks” and accusing them of “working at cross purposes” to the scheme.

“They are refusing to give parking and landing slots to Air Deccan and Air Odisha for the routes. They have now grudgingly agreed to give two or three slots under pressure from the ministry officials but are trying to be mischievous by giving slots at midnight to places like Solapur or Kolhapur, which have no night landing,” he said.
29/10/17 Satish Nandgaonkar/Mumbai Mirror