With an aim to further increase connectivity to remote areas, the government on Tuesday invited bids from airlines under the fourth round of bidding of its regional connectivity scheme UDAN. The latest round launched by the civil aviation ministry will focus on priority areas such as NER, Hilly States, J&K, Ladakh and islands, the government said in a statement. Under the scheme, financial incentives in terms of concessions from the centre, state governments, and airport operators are extended to selected airlines to encourage operations in the regional areas and keep airfares affordable. The inclusion of helicopter and sea plane operation under NSOP license has also been allowed in the fourth round of bidding.
"The provision of VGF for Category 2 / 3 aircraft (more than 20 seater) has been enhanced for operation of RCS flights in Priority Area(s) (Union Territories [UT] of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir; the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern State; UT of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar)," the government added. The government has also revised the viability gap funding (VGF) limit applicable for various stage lengths for operation through category 1 / 1 A aircraft (below 20 seater).
In the last three years, MoCA has successfully completed three rounds of bidding under the Scheme and awarded about 700 routes. UDAN is a regional airport development and Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) of the government with the objective of letting the common citizen of the country fly, aimed at making air travel affordable and widespread, to boost inclusive national economic development, job growth and air transport infrastructure development of all regions and states.