Sunday, February 10, 2019

Only 4 UDAN routes in northeast operational

New Delhi: Two years since the launch of the ambitious low-cost flying scheme, aerial connectivity continues to elude the northeastern region. While as many as 20 bi-directional routes were awarded to various airlines during this period, only four are currently operational.

The routes that have been connected are Guwahati-Pakyong-Guwahati (SpiceJet), Jorhat-Kolkata-Jorhat (IndiGo), Lilabari-Kolkata-Lilabari (SpiceJet) and Pakyong-Delhi-Pakyong (SpiceJet).

When the scheme was launched in March 2017, a total of five routes were identified from the northeast for the regional connectivity scheme (RCS), also known as Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN). Under the scheme, the government provides a subsidy to airlines, who have to cap airfares for 50% of the total seats at Rs2,500 per hour of flight.

These routes, connecting Shillong with five other destinations in Meghalaya, were bagged by Air Deccan. All of them now stand withdrawn because of the failure on the part of the airline to commence operations on some routes, and due to erratic services on others. Last week, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) once again invited interest from various airlines for these routes.
The northeast region was among the priority areas to be brought under the scheme during the second round of bidding that was concluded in January 2018. During this phase, 15 routes in Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Sikkim were granted to various carriers, of which only the four routes mentioned above have been able to take off.
10/02/19 Jagriti Chandra/The Hindu
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