The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry said as many as 44 out of 414 Indian airports have the potential for operations under the Regional Connectivity Scheme for civil aviation, also known as UDAN – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik. The airports have been identified based on their distance from the nearest operational airport, demographic profile, industrial profile, tourism potential, quality of runway and terminal, among other factors.
Agra, Allahabad, Kanpur and Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, and Amravati, Nanded, Solapur in Maharashtra have been selected as potential airports. Rajasthan, West Bengal, Assam also have been identified for regional airports with three cities earmarked in each state. The other state which may soon have airports under the scheme include Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Karnataka and Bihar.
Union Civil Aviation Secretary told PTI that so far 22 states have joined the scheme and 30 airports have been identified where the operations could be started immediately. However, Regional Director of International Civil Aviation Organisation, Arun Mishra, said India did not have the resources to properly implement the scheme. “Many of the airports [identified for RCS] do not have big runways...We need to induct smaller aircraft for short runways for short takeoffs and landings,” he said, adding that such aircraft are not available in India yet.
UDAN, was introduced in October 2016 as part of the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016. The scheme provides a unique opportunity to take flying to the masses by way of fiscal incentives, infrastructure support, procedural simplifications and monetary subsidies. The Centre has capped fares for half the seats on one-hour flights at Rs 2,500 to make flying between smaller towns or cities affordable.
However, airlines had expressed their displeasure at sharing the burden of funding the scheme after the government decided to impose a levy on scheduled flights on major routes. This, they said, was likely to push up regular fares for passengers.