78 new flight routes approved under Phase 1 of UDAN 4.0: Aviation Min

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New Delhi (NVI): The Ministry of Civil Aviation today said that 78 new routes have been identified and approved under Phase 1 of UDAN 4.0 and that 100 airports/heliports/water aerodromes will be developed by 2024 under RCS UDAN.

The new routes mainly focus on areas of the Northeast, along with airports that were unserved and undeserved.

The Airports Authority of India (AAI) is in-charge of implementing the Ministry’s decision on operation of to and fro flights between the new routes. Select-domestic fliers would be roped in by the AAI as part of the UDAN 4.0 scheme implementation.

Airports Authority of India, the implementing agency is in the process of awarding these routes to the Selected Airline Operators (SAOs), the Ministry said. 4th round of bidding was commenced on December 3, 2019.

After three rounds of bidding under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)- Ude Deshka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), pre-COVID, 688 valid routes were awarded, out of which 281 routes were operationalized.

After suspension of domestic flight operations from March 25-May 24, domestic air services including RCS operations were recommenced with effect from May 25.

The airports that had already been developed by AAI are given higher priority for the award of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the scheme.

Under UDAN 4.0, the operation of helicopter and seaplanes is also been incorporated.

Since its inception, Ministry of Civil Aviation has operationalized 274 UDAN routes that have connected 45 airports and 3 heliports.

In a written reply Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri in Rajya Sabha spelt out the reasons for non-operationalisation of few UDAN routes:

i) Lack of infrastructure at civil airports due to non-availability of land, delay related to compliance of the regulations by the airport operators, lack of road connectivity to the airports.

ii) Non-completion of the process involved in obtaining Scheduled Commuter Operators Permit by the airlines.

Due to COVID-19, commencement of civil work of airports got delayed. Also, due to suspension of domestic operations, overall commencement of new routes got adversely affected.