Only 4 out of 20 UDAN routes in NE operational

Only 4 out of 20 UDAN routes in NE operational

New Delhi, February 10: 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 Rs 2,500 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 All of them now stand withdrawn because of the failure on the part of the airline to commence operations on some routes, and due to erratic services on others.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.
None of the 75 helicopter routes in the country have taken off so far, which includes 33 routes for the northeast region.
Sources in the MoCA said that they would be writing once again to various airlines, such as TruJet, AAA Aviation and Zoom Air, to start operations, failing which these routes, too, will stand cancelled.
In the meantime, the government allotted 19 additional routes last month, including five seaplane routes in yet another round of bidding for UDAN. Airlines have six months to start services on these routes. (Courtesy: The Hindu)