Civil aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) imposed a Rs 70 lakh fine on Air Vistara for not having operated the minimum number of mandated flights to underserved areas of the country's northeast region.
The fine was imposed in October last year for not complying with the rules in April 2022.
The airline has already paid the fine, said a DGCA official.
Responding on the matter, a Vistara spokesperson said, "Vistara has been in absolute compliance with RDG (Route Dispersal Guidelines) over the past several years. In fact, we have been consistently deploying more than requisite ASKMs in the various categories, as prescribed in the RDG rule."
However, the spokesperson admitted that some flights had to be cancelled due to the closure of Bagdogra airport, leading to a shortfall of just 0.01 per cent in the required number of flights in April 2022 (short by just one flight).
"Also, as per the new Civil Aviation Policy 2016 which came into effect from Northern Winter 2017-18, trading of ASKMs has also been discontinued, which has restricted the options available to airlines to make any last-minute adjustments in such instances," the spokesperson added.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation's flagship programme Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) has already completed five years. The first flight was launched in April 2017.
The scheme was initiated in October 2016 with the objective of fulfilling the aspirations of the common citizen, with an enhanced aviation infrastructure and air connectivity in tier II and tier III cities.
"Having said that, as a law-abiding organization and in compliance with the order, Vistara has paid the penalty under protest. We also confirm to have deployed capacity in excess to the RDG requirement since then, as we had been doing in the past," the Vistara spokesperson further said.
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