Govt. mulls changes to UDAN scheme to attract more players

The Centre may introduce changes to its regional connectivity scheme or UDAN to attract more players in the second round of bidding. “In a recent meeting, we have received numerous suggestions from stakeholders and we might bring some changes to UDAN ahead of the second round of bidding so that more airlines show interest,” said a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official. Allowing single-engine aircraft to fly under the scheme, increasing route exclusivity for airlines and higher subsidy for helicopters among others are some of the proposals which may be considered. Airlines had asked the Civil Aviation Ministry to increase the exclusive flying rights on UDAN routes from three to five years. “However, we do not favour increasing the exclusive rights to five years since we feel airlines get enough safeguards by operating exclusively on a route for three years,” said another Ministry official. Justifying exclusive flying rights, Civil Aviation Secretary Mr R.N. Choubey had said last year that since routes become profitable after a certain point of time and airlines are taking risk to operate on regional routes, they should be “given some time to get fruits of the profit.”

Singe engine planes

The airlines had also asked the Ministry to allow them to operate single-engine aircraft on routes under UDAN. However, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation is not in favour of the proposal due to safety reasons, according to a Ministry official. “We are persuading them to allow single-engine aircraft under the scheme,” the official said.

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