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UDAN 4.0: 78 new routes approved; bonanza for North East

BusinessToday.In     August 27, 2020

The Civil Aviation Ministry has approved 78 new routes under the 4th round of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) -- Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) -- to further enhance the connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Thursday. The decision was taken following three successful rounds of bidding for these routes.

The awarding of these 78 routes under UDAN 4 is in line with the Act East Policy of the Centre, said Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation. A total of 18 unserved or underserved airports would also be connected to metro cities like Delhi, Kolkata, Kochi, etc, a tweet by Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.

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"UDAN 4.0 extends the horizon; reaching out to north-eastern region, island & unserved areas. 78 routes are being awarded in Phase-I of 4th round based on the readiness of airlines or airports," Padhee said.

List of 78 routes under Phase-I UDAN 4.0:

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According to Padhe, the Centre this time focussed on airports where development work has been completed. The government has also allowed helicopter and seaplanes services under the UDAN 4.0 Scheme. Overall, 274 UDAN routes have been operationalised and 766 routes have been sanctioned so far under the Centre's UDAN scheme, connecting 45 airports and 3 heliports, she added.

The UDAN Scheme aims to improve connectivity to remote and regional areas (like North East regions, hilly states, Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh), besides giving flexibility to airlines in designing their network, promoting short-haul routes, and revising the parameters of VGF (viability gap funding).

The government subsidises UDAN flight tickets under VGF (for three years) based on flight hours, distance flown, and airport type (priority or non-priority). UDAN is the modified version of erstwhile RDG (route dispersal guidelines) of the MoCA that promoted regional connectivity. Because RDG was a forced rule, the airlines never really liked the scheme.

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