UDAN Scheme: The proposed changes seek to include routes of less than 150 kms.
The government is likely to award air routes under the second round of the regional connectivity scheme (RCS) by August, for which it has invited comments from stakeholders on certain changes it has proposed.
The stakeholders, including airlines, send their views to the government for the second part of bidding for the RCS-UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) routes by June 9 on various changes it proposes in the scheme, including consideration of a route less than 150 kms.
"July 9 is the date of closure of the bid (for the second round). The idea is that in the month of August, we should be in a position to award the second round of bidding," Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey told a press conference.
To encourage intra-regional connectivity, he said the stakeholders should send their views on whether to include a route between two airports which are neither under-served, nor un-served under the scheme.
The proposed changes seek to include routes of less than 150 kms in the scheme.
Besides, reduction of exclusivity on a route from the current three years to one year while keeping the viability gap funding (VGF) of three years unchanged, has also been envisaged in the proposed changes.
"The proposal is that while we maintain the VGF for three years, can we reduce the exclusivity period for route from three to 1 year," Mr Choubey said.
Comments have also been invited on the minimum number of RCS seats mandated in a flight. Currently, the minimum number stands at nine seats per flight under the scheme.
While Mr Choubey said the number of seats will not go below nine, a presentation on the issue threw up a question for stakeholders as to whether the minimum number of seats went below nine, how would the requirement for providing RCS and non-RCS seats be met.
One the proposed changes are finalised, they would come into effect prospectively, Mr Choubey said.
To a query on allowing single-engine aircraft on the routes under UDAN, Mr Chaubey said the issue regarding it was under the consideration of Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
"Till the time, we are absolutely sure about the safe operations of single-engine aircraft in a scheduled commercial environment, we would not like to rush into judgement," he said.
He said all the airports would be licensed before the commencement of operations under UDAN 1 and the airlines which fail to operationalise on these routes will face a penalty.
Under the first round of UDAN, 27 proposals were awarded for 128 routes which will connect 72 airports--27 served airports, 12 under-served airports and 33 un-served airports.
The proposals, which will require VGF of around Rs 200 crore per year, will provide around 13 lakh seats yearly, of which half will be covered by airfare cap of Rs 2500 for about one hour of flying.
Last month, UDAN scheme commenced with the first flight starting from Shimla to the national capital.
Mr Choubey also said that Kannur aiport in Kerala will become operational by end of this year.
Civil Aviation Minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju was also present on the occasion.