Udaan scheme set for take off: 43 ghost airports to see subsidised flights soon

Aerial view of Cuiaba airport in extensive renovations November 18, 2013. Brazil insists its airports will be ready for up to 600,000 foreign visitors during next year's World Cup, but an internal report said severe overcrowding and long flight delays are likely, with passenger traffic exceeding capacity by as much as 50 percent even if extensive renovations are finished on time. Picture taken November 18,2013 REUTERS/Paulo Whitaker (BRAZIL - Tags: SPORT SOCCER WORLD CUP BUSINESS TRANSPORT) - RTX167AW

New Delhi: More than three dozen airports across India, which today do not handle a single flight, may get connected under the government’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) scheme. Bids by interested airlines have been received to connect 43 such new airports for 190 routes but a final tally will emerge after the bidding process ends.

So cities such as Jaisalmer and Bikaner in Rajasthan, Jalgaon in Maharashtra, Ludhiana in Punjab, and Shimla in Himachal may soon come on to India’s aviation map. 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.

The first flight under the Udan scheme should start next month. 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.