UDAN 5.0 to air connect 54 wildlife and tourism destinations

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) plans to connect more than 50 wildlife and tourism destinations in the next stage of the regional connectivity initiative Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN).

It has identified 54 new destinations for the next phase of the scheme. The fifth phase of the scheme — is to be called UDAN 5.0. — will aim to add or revive airstrips closer to wildlife sanctuaries, tourist destinations or spiritual places. 

“With UDAN 5.0. we are going from regional to remote connectivity. This will be a demand-driven scheme.

We will not decide the routes for airlines to bid for. Airlines know the network better. They will be allowed to select the routes they want to bid for. Of course, we have some priority areas included in the scheme, like in North East states and islands.”

Usha Padhee, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation

The government has prepared a list of potential airports. Most of these destinations already have either an underserved or unserved airstrip.

The list includes 10 airstrips, which are near wildlife sanctuaries like Ranthambore (Sawai Madhopur) and Bharatpur in Rajasthan, Bishnupur, also cultural destinations in West Bengal, Yavatmal in Maharashtra, Satna, Dhana and Mandla in Madhya Pradesh and  Nagarjuna Sagar in Andhra Pradesh. 

The government has prepared a list of potential airports.

Airstrips near 29 tourist destinations, including Chamba, Sidhi,  Panchmahri, Jogbani, Raichur, Hirakund and Kohima have been proposed to be developed as potential airports.

Religious and spiritual destinations like Konark, Bihar Sharif, Hassan, Dessa and Abu Road will be included in the bidding process for UDAN 5.0. 

Madhya Pradesh and Bihar are likely to be the biggest beneficiaries of this round. Eleven airstrips from Madhya Pradesh and seven from Bihar are included in the list. 

UDAN 5.0 to air connect 54 wildlife and tourism destinations

The airlines bidding under the scheme will be allowed to propose the routes. Airlines will have to go through a two-stage bidding process before the route is awarded. The scheme’s draft is ready and the bidding process is likely to commence in the next three months.

The UDAN scheme was started in October 2016 to provide air connectivity in tier II and tier III cities and make flying affordable for common citizens. It was launched to enhance regional air connectivity from unserved and underserved airports in the country.

Under this scheme, RCS was created, which funds the scheme’s viability gap funding (VGF) requirements through a levy on certain domestic flights. A total of 70 airstrips and 433 routes have been operationalised in the previous four phases of the scheme. 

UDAN was launched to enhance regional air connectivity from unserved and underserved airports in the country.

Under UDAN, the government invites proposals for under-served and unserved airports. A Viability Gap Funding is also provided to the Selected Airline Operators for the operation of the Udan flights as per the provisions of the scheme document. Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the first Udan flight from Shimla to Delhi in April 2017.

ALSO READ – At the halfway point, Government’s UDAN – RCS is still in the works

As of July 2022, a total of 425 routes have commenced under the scheme, connecting 68 unserved and underserved airports including eight heliports and two water aerodromes.

As of July 2022, a total of 425 routes have commenced under the scheme, connecting 68 unserved and underserved airports including eight heliports and two water aerodromes.

ALSO READ – Udan 4.2 scheme receives more than 100 bids

According to a recent report by the Ministry of Civil Aviation, more than one crore of passengers has flown in the last five years while benefitting from the Ministry of Civil Aviation’s flagship programme Regional Connectivity Scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik).

There were 74 operational airports in 2014. Because of the UDAN scheme, this number has increased to 141. 68 underserved/unserved destinations which include 58 Airports, 8 Heliports and 2 Water Aerodromes have been connected under the UDAN scheme.

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