Recently UDAN (UdeDeshkaAamNagrik), a Regional Connectivity Scheme of the Ministry of Civil Aviation has completed 5 years of success since the launch of its first flight by the Prime Minister on 27th April 2017.
- UdeDeshKaAamNaagrik (UDAN) was launched as a Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) under the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2016.
- It was formulated based on the review of The National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP)-2016 and it was planned to remain in force for a period of 10 years.
- Under this Scheme, Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) was created, which funds the Viability Gap Funding (VGF) requirements of the scheme through a levy on certain domestic flights.
- VGF means a grant one-time or deferred, provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justified but fall short of financial viability.
- To develop the regional aviation market.
- To provide affordable, economically viable and profitable air travel on regional routes to the common man even in small towns.
- The scheme envisages providing connectivity to unserved and underserved airports of the country through the revival of existing air-strips and airports.
- Under-served airports are those which do not have more than one flight a day, while unserved airports are those where there are no operations.
- Financial incentives from the Centre, state governments and airport operators are extended to selected airlines to encourage operations from unserved and under-served airports, and keep airfares affordable.
- There were 74 operational airports in 2014 which has increased to 141 by now.
- 68 underserved/unserved destinations which include 58 Airports, 8 Heliports & 2 Water Aerodromes have been connected under UDAN scheme.
- With 425 new routes initiated, UDAN has provided air connectivity to more than 29 States/ UTs across the country.
- More than one crore passengers have availed the benefits of this scheme as on 4th August 2022.
- 220 destinations (airports/heliports/water aerodromes) under UDAN are targeted to be completed by 2026 with 1000 routes to provide air connectivity to unconnected destinations in the country.
- Under UDAN, 954 routes have already been awarded to connect 156 airports.
- Airlines have leveraged the scheme strategically towards gaining additional slots at congested tier-1 airports, monopoly status on routes and lower operational costs.
- Thus, stakeholders should work towards making the UDAN scheme sustainable on its own and improve its efficiency.
SOURCE: THE HINDU,THE ECONOMIC TIMES,MINT