UDAN 4.0: Government launches 4th round of air connectivity scheme
The UDAN-4 scheme will focus on the priority regions including the northeast, hilly states and UTs J&K, Ladakh, Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
UDAN 4.0: The Union Government has launched the fourth round of the regional connectivity scheme, UDAN to boost connectivity to more remote and regional areas of the country.
UDAN, which stands for ‘Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik’, aims to make air travel affordable and widespread. The UDAN 4.0 will focus on the priority regions including the northeast, hilly states, Jammu and Kashmir UT, Ladakh and islands.
The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation launched the 4th round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN following three successful rounds of bidding to enhance connectivity in the remote and regional areas of the country.
UDAN 4.0: Key Features
1. Revision of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) – The VGF provision for Category 2 / 3 aircraft (with more than 20 seats) has been enhanced for the operation of flights under RCS to priority areas. The VGF cap applicable for operation of category 1 / 1 A aircraft (below 20 seaters) has also been revised to incentivize the operation of smaller aircraft under the scheme.
The priority areas include the two new union territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir, hilly states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, north-eastern states and island regions of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
2. Short-haul routes- The VGF provision would be restricted to routes with stage length of up to 600 km for the operation of category 2 / 3 aircraft. Beyond this, no monetary support would be provided. The table for the provision of VGF for various stage lengths would be available for stage length up to 500 km.
3. Prioritization framework – Under the scheme, airports already developed by the Airport Authority of India will be given higher priority for the Viability Gap Funding. The airports not part of the list but are located in the priority areas will be given priority next, followed by airports located in other areas.
4. Flexibility to change the flight operation frequency - The Selected Airline Operator (SAO) will be allowed to change the flight operation frequency during the tenure of flight operation of the given route. However, this will only be allowed when the total scheduled flight operation, which was submitted as a part of the Technical Proposal, was conformed and adhered to within a year.
5. Inclusion of helicopter and seaplane operation- The The operation of helicopter and seaplane would be allowed under round four of the UDAN scheme under the NSOP license.
UDAN scheme: Background
The UDAN scheme was launched in October 2016 to make air travel affordable by providing connectivity to the under-served areas in the country by the revival of existing airports and airstrips.
Besides making travel affordable and accessible to all, the UDAN scheme aims to boost inclusive national economic development, development of air transport infrastructure in all regions and job growth.
In the last three years, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation completed three rounds of bidding under the scheme in the last three years and awarded around 700 routes, many of which will be operationalized during the winter schedule 2019. The Ministry is working to develop more airports and operationalize the pending routes.
Overall, the Civil Aviation Ministry aims to operationalize around 1000 routes and develop more than 100 airports in the next five years. The Ministry aims to achieve this by focusing on operationalizing routes in the priority areas.
The Aviation Ministry aims to develop short-haul routes. The Airport Authority of India also aims to develop no-frills airport in the future and the routes connecting such airports will be prioritized for awarding the Viability Gap Funding.