Odisha: Four new airports to get connected under UDAN scheme

Four new airports from Odisha, which today do not handle a single flight, may get connected under the government’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme from February.

These new airports are Jharsuguda, Jeypore, Rourkela and Utkela (Kalahandi). Airports Authority of India (AAI) received 43 initial proposals from 11 bidders for 190 routes under the regional air connectivity scheme UDAN.

Passengers flying out of metro airports may need to part-fund this ambitious regional air connectivity scheme of the government as the flights to these unviable airports will be subsidised through a fund where metro flyers (through a levy on airlines), state governments and the Centre will fund the corpus.

This ambitious scheme offers subsidy to airlines to mount flight to those of India’s airports where either no scheduled flight operates today or where the frequency of flights is very limited. It also mandates that any airline availing of the government’s subsidy should cap fares on identified routes to Rs 2,500 per hour of flying. For helicopters, this cap is Rs 5,000 for an hour of flying.

“Based on the first phase of bidding for airports, the UDAN scheme is going to be a game changer, as it will increase the total number of operational airport in the country to 118 from 75 now,” said Minister of State of Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha.

A “first of its kind” in the world, UDAN will be based on market mechanism as well as bidding for a minimum of 9 seats and a maximum of 40 seats in a fixed wing aircraft. For 50 percent of the seats of flights under UDAN, the fare cap will be Rs 2,500, and the rest will be market-based pricing.

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