NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched UDAN 5.1 to further enhance connectivity to remote areas of the country and achieve last-mile connectivity through helicopters.
This follows four successful rounds of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) and with version 5.0 of the fifth round underway.
The main features of the 5.1 include — an increase in the scope of operations for operators wherein the scheme will now allow routes where one of the origin or destination locations is in a priority area. Earlier both points had to be in priority areas.
Airfare caps have been reduced by as much as 25 per cent to make flying in helicopters more affordable for passengers.
Viability Gap Funding (VGF) caps (subsidy) for the operators have been increased “substantially” for both single and twin-engine helicopters to enhance financial viability for operating the awarded routes.
“The latest round of the UDAN scheme is a testament to two emerging phenomenon in Indian civil aviation – one, a deeper democratisation of air travel with a focus on last-mile connectivity. Second, a growing appetite for helicopters in aiding tourism. Greater helicopter penetration through such efforts will help boost tourism, hospitality, and thus, our local economies. UDAN 5.1 heralds a new dawn not just for civil aviation, but also for India’s remote & unserved regions.” said Jyotiraditya Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation.
The current version of the scheme has been designed after consultations with all stakeholders including helicopter operators. While the intended target is to provide last-mile connectivity, it is also projected to give the helicopter segment of the Indian civil aviation industry a much-needed boost.
It may be mentioned that till date 46 helicopter routes have been operationalized under previous rounds of the scheme benefitting a number of hilly and North East states and this round is targeting coverage of a much larger number of routes.
The UDAN scheme has recently completed five years.
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.
The government has approved the ‘Revival of unserved and under-served airports’ scheme for the revival and development of 100 unserved and under-served airports, helipads and water aerodromes by 2024. It is an ongoing scheme where bidding rounds are conducted occasionally to cover more destinations or stations and routes. (ANI)