The Centre on Thursday announced 45 new air routes awarded to airlines under its regional connectivity scheme for civil aviation, also known as Udan – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik. The new routes connecting 31 cities were announced by Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi and Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha. All the flights assigned after the first round of bidding are expected become active within four to six months.

The seating capacity in the flights will range from 19 to 78, and 50% of the tickets will be available under the Rs 2,500 per hour per seat cap. The ministers also announced that they aimed to revive 50 airports in the next two years for commercial flights in small and medium cities.

“The Udan network will cover the whole country, giving a major economic boost to hinterland areas,” Gajapathi said at a press conference. “Connecting the unconnected, serving the unserved, Udan routes award today realise Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of regional connectivity.” He believes that the move will boost the economy “in terms of employment and investment”.

Source: PIB

Sinha said the Udan design was successful given the airports covered as well as in terms of the efficiency with which the market had been created. “Udan will stimulate the growth of the regional aviation market in India,” he said, adding that the Centre was very pleased with results of the first round of bidding.

The minister of state further explained that the routes were assigned to airlines on the basis of the extent of the viability gap funding they demanded. Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said, “VGF of Rs 205 crore this year would mean around Rs 50 extra for a passenger on a non-regional route.”

Udan was introduced in October last year 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 flights between smaller towns or cities affordable.