ITANAGAR, Jan 25: A total of 109 airports and heliports around the country have been awarded to various airlines and helicopter operators under the second round of bidding for the government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) named Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN).
The locations being linked include Tezu. Arunachal Pradesh will also have towns connected by helicopter operations. Helicopter operations have been allowed under UDAN for the first time.
To get airlines interested in operating to smaller cities, the government is offering viability gap funding (VGF) if the operators are willing to price at least 50 per cent of the seats on these flights under Rs 2,500 for one hour of flying, subject to a maximum of 40 seats. The rest of the seats can be priced at market rates.
While the government’s annual allocation of funds due to VGF was in the region of Rs 620 crore during the first round of UDAN, it is likely to be around Rs 213 crore in the second round, according to Union Civil Aviation Secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey.
Officials indicated that SpiceJet and IndiGo had put in almost 20 proposals to operate flights without seeking VGF.
Arunachal Pradesh was included under the UDAN of the union civil aviation ministry in September last year.
A tripartite MoU was signed in New Delhi on Tuesday between Arunachal Pradesh, the civil aviation ministry and the Airports Authority of India (AAI).
But Pasighat, where the ALG has already been completed, is yet to see any activity even though the union civil aviation secretary had assured that commercial air services from Pasighat would commence by November 2017.
There are six ALGS – Tuting, Wallong, Mechuka, Pasighat, Ziro and Aalo – which have so far been completed and are ready for use but are not being used for commercial purposes.
The Centre, in 2009, had decided to revamp the ALGs, which have remained unused since the 1965 Indo-China war to improve defence infrastructure.
It remains to be seen whether these ALGS will actually see commercial flying as demanded by the people of the state. Arunachal does not have an airport yet.