News Nation Logo


Government unveils plans to promote regional air connectivity

Flyers May Have To Shell Out Slightly More For Tickets To Fund The Government’s Ambitious Regional Connectivity Scheme That Was Rolled Out Today Under Which Airfares Will Be Capped At Rs 2,500 For One-hour Flights On Unserved And Under-served Routes.

PTI | Updated on: 02 Jul 2016, 08:10:47 AM

New Delhi :

Flyers may have to shell out slightly more for tickets to fund the government’s ambitious regional connectivity scheme that was rolled out today under which airfares will be capped at Rs 2,500 for one-hour flights on unserved and under-served routes.

The RCS, which was mooted in the new civil aviation policy as part of government’s plan to serve smaller cities, has been put up for stakeholders’ consultations including state governments, airlines and airport operators. It will target 90 airports.

The stakeholders have been given three weeks time to submit their comments and suggestions on the draft scheme, which is expected to be finalised by August.

Also as part of the proposed scheme, a new category of airlines, scheduled commuter airlines, is being created where a new operator may be allowed to start operations with just one plane.

Under the proposed scheme, the government would be providing Viability Gap Funding (VGF) -- which would be financed through Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF).

Union Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju while unveiling the draft policy said RCF would be created for funding RCS “through levy on certain flights”.

In this regard, the government would be charging a levy in the form of per domestic departure from the airlines on certain routes, a move which is expected to push the airfares marginally higher.

The Ministry would contribute 80 per cent of the VGF, while respective state governments would chip in with the remaining 20 per cent to the fund which will have a corpus of Rs 500 crore each year.

When asked how much levy is likely to be charged, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said, “We are giving final touches to that aspect (levy amount), that will be announced very soon.”

Raju said the fare for a one-hour flight of about 500 km on a fixed-wing aircraft or on a 30-minute helicopter ride has been fixed at Rs 2,500.

He added that fares for other route lengths or durations will be priced proportionately (though not linearly).

“The states are interested in connectivity ... Their feedback will also be taken into account. The central government cannot bypass the states. We will take them into confidence and work along with them to make this (RCS) happen,” Raju said.

The proposed scheme would be applicable for air services connecting “unserved and under-served routes” ranging from 200 to 800 km, while there would be no lower limit for hilly, remote, island and security sensitive regions.

“There are 31 airports inactive as of now. So, inactive airports will become low hanging fruits in different states,” said Raju.

There are 394 unserved and 16 under-served airports in the country. “The scheme is demand driven. Wherever the state governments and airlines are coming forward for making them functional, we would be very happy to revive those airports,” Choubey said.

Choubey added that there are about 30 such airports which can be used for operations in no time without incurring any extra cost on their revival.

For all the Latest India News, Download News Nation Android and iOS Mobile Apps.

First Published : 02 Jul 2016, 08:08:00 AM