Andhra Pradesh Air Travellers Association launch UDAN services from Vizag. This is a first direct flight under this scheme to Jagdalpur ( Chattisgarh). The flight arrives in Vizag at 9.35 am and takes off at 10.05 am and lands in Jagdalpur at 10.50 am. It is a 45 minutes flight from Vizag. The price is below Rs.2500 per seat. ( approx. between 2000 to 2500).
UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) is a regional airport development and “Regional Connectivity Scheme” (RCS) of Government of India, with the objective of “Let the common citizen of the country fly”, aimed at making air travel affordable and widespread, to boost inclusive national economic development, job growth and air transport infrastructure development of all regions and states of India. At the beginning of the scheme, out of total 486 airports, 406 were participating unserved airports, 27 well-served airports out of 62 non-RCS airports and 12 operational out of 18 participating underserved regional operational airports (Nov 2016) with regular fixed-wing scheduled flights. The scheme will add to this number by expediting the development and operationalisation of India’s potential-target of nearly 425 unserved, underserved and mostly underdeveloped regional airports with regularly scheduled flights.
The scheme has two components. The First component is to develop new and enhance the existing regional airports to increase the number of operational airports for the scheduled civilian flights from 70 (in May 2016, total 98 operational including army airports) to at least 150 airports (by December 2018) with regularly scheduled flights. Initially, more than 100 underserved (no more than 7 scheduled flights per week) and unserved regional airports will be developed by December 2018, for which the initial funding of ₹45,000 million (US$670 million or €570 million) for the enhancement of 50 regional airports was approved in May 2017. Out of total 70 airports included in round-I, 43 are regional airports to be newly operationalised, RCS-Udan operations have commenced from 13 regional airports and additional 12 regional airports are ready to receive flights, 18 regional airports still require a significant upgrade (November 2017). The Second component is to add several hundred financially-viable capped-airfare new regional flight routes to connect more than 100 underserved and unserved airports in smaller towns with each other as well as with well-served airports in bigger cities by using “Viability Gap Funding” (VGF) where needed. Initially, three separate rounds of bidding for the award of routes will be concluded by the end of 2018. Union government share of “Viability Gap Funding” is from the cess applied to flights to popular routes to main cities and respective state governments have also offered additional benefits to the flight operators to make UDAN-RCS viable.
UDAN-RCS Round-I concluded in April 2017, 5 airlines companies were awarded 128 fixed-wing flight routes to 70 airports (including 36 newly made operational airports, taking the number of total number of operational airports with civilian scheduled flights to 106 and total 131 airports operational with civilian and army operation including dual-use airports), several of which have already become operational by November 2017 and most of remaining routes will become operational by 15 December 2017. UDAN-RCS Round-II results will be awarded in late December 2017, from among the 141 proposals received for 502 new regional routes from 17 airlines and helicopter companies to operate flight services.
A number of aircraft jumped 38% to 548 in Dec 2017 from 395 in 2014 and 50 aircraft are being added every year. Subsequent phases with the inclusion of seaplanes will boost the number of potential landing sites from nearly 500 airports to over five lakh (500,000) water bodies as well as more locations along India’s 7,000 coastlines. SpiceJet has placed a US$400 million order for 100 of these 12-seater amphibian seaplanes (December 2017).