UDAN scheme promises cheap airfares to all Indians, Infra News, ET Infra
Broadband connectivity serves as an important enabler for economic and business activities in any country. When such quality resources and infrastructure reach small towns and ordinary people, the pace of growth undergoes a tremendous change and gives new impetus.
It takes on new importance as India moves towards self-sufficiency and the consequent expansion of its economy, and immediate priority must be given to the development of quality infrastructure and high-speed connectivity as well. .
Many government-appointed task forces were of the view that the huge potential lay in a program that would focus on realizing the dream of air travel for the common Indian, thus also boosting trade and inter-city connectivity.
With particular emphasis on energy, roads, railways and urban projects, the government has already undertaken numerous infrastructure and connectivity projects under the competent aegis of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. Union, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Indian Railways and Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.
It is with this intention of ensuring regional connectivity as well as meeting the aspirations of ordinary people that the flagship program of the Government of India – UDAN (Regional Connectivity Scheme) – has been undertaken. The Center has planned and is currently working to operationalize 100 unserved and underserved airports and at least 1,000 air routes under the UDAN (“Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik”) programme.
The program aims to improve connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country and make air travel affordable. It is a key part of the Centre’s National Civil Aviation Policy led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and launched in June 2016.
It has two components: the first is to improve existing airports and develop new ones for faster regional connectivity. The second is the addition of new capped airfares and true financially viable regional roots.
Last month, the program completed five successful years since its first flight took off in 2017. With improved aviation infrastructure and air connectivity in Tier II and III cities, the program has been able to fulfill the aspirations of the common Indian in a relatively short period of time. Over the past five years, the program has significantly increased regional air connectivity in the country. Today, India is becoming the world’s third largest aviation market.
One of the major areas of focus for the Ministry of Civil Aviation has been to better connect 68 previously unserved and underserved destinations, including 58 airports, eight heliports and two water aerodromes.
At the same time, the program was able to launch 425 new routes providing connectivity to 29 states and seven union territories across the country.
Through this program, an approximate figure of around 1.2 crore passengers have been able to enjoy the benefits, providing a much needed platform for regional carriers to scale up their operations.
As a testament to the commitment made more than eight years ago that the Indian aviation industry would undergo a transformation, 425 routes have started with 575 routes on track for implementation over the next half-decade. Another important impetus was the development of airport infrastructures with the objective of 100 airports, 68 of which are already operational.
Through these large-scale modernization works, the idea is to ensure that the airways can adequately compete with the railways as well as the roads and become the bulwark of transport in India in the coming years.
The program is implemented on the ground through a myriad of processes. Upon identification, the airlines are bid by the airlines and the one with the lowest request for government subsidy is given the opportunity to operate flights on the selected route.
These companies provide half seats on each of their flights (with a minimum of nine and a maximum of 40 seats) at the subsidized rate of INR 2500, and the rest of the rate is offset by the government through a mechanism called Viability Gap Funding ( VGF). an amount shared between the Center and the States concerned. Also, benefits such as free security, electricity, fire services, etc. are provided by state governments.
Through this program, a wide range of stakeholders have benefited. Passengers have benefited from the benefits of air connectivity, airlines have received concessions to operate regional routes, unserved and underserved regions have also benefited in terms of economic development through the direct or indirect benefits of connectivity Aerial.
In addition, a needs-based framework has been created to meet demands for medical cargo deliveries, agricultural commodity enhancement as well as connectivity of the North East region with the rest of the country.
As the Lifeline UDAN initiative was launched in March 2020 during the period of Covid-19 and it has helped to operate 588 flights transporting nearly 1000 tons of bulky cargo and essential medical services to various parts of the country, which is has been proven to save lives for millions affected. by the unprecedented health crisis.
The second in the line is Krishi UDAN who managed the realization of the value of agricultural products, and IUDAN – international UDAN routes, especially in the North Eastern Region (NER) and tribal districts to explore international connectivity with neighboring countries. These are all pillars of the framework that was created as needed, as part of the UDAN regional connectivity scheme.
According to a study by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2015-2016, 65% of air connectivity and 61% of air traffic was confined to just six metropolitan cities in the country. The same 2021-2022 study confirmed that more than 70% of air traffic had shifted to Tier II cities, with these smaller cities seeing an increase of more than 5% in passenger traffic.
These are significant changes that have opened up tourism opportunities for places that were hardly accessible just six or seven years ago. Deoghar and Kushinagar, with their enormous importance in terms of religious and cultural tourism, are two places that have benefited immensely from the program. With the increase in tourist visitation, there has also been a steady increase in the number of jobs that have been created through these projects.
To ensure that the ordinary citizen has access to the best yet affordable connectivity mechanisms, UDAN has been able to create a favorable impact on the country’s economy while receiving a positive response from industry stakeholders.
Ensuring balanced regional growth leading to economic growth as well as job creation for the local population, the program was able to reorganize the entire system. With a structured program like this in place, the government was able to put in place a solid foundation that would enable public welfare, inclusive growth as well as boost employment and connectivity further.