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Udan 2.0: Low-Cost Foreign Flights Set To Take Wings

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Mumbai: Encouraged by the success Udan—Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik—the Narendra Modi-led government is working on a fresh regional air connectivity scheme to connect smaller cities to neighbouring countries by incentivising airlines to operate affordable flights. “The rethink is to enable state governments to use the Udan platform for international connectivity,” civil aviation secretary RN Choubey told a press conference at the Wings India 2018 summit on Thursday.

Udan is an acronym for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik—a government scheme to put smaller towns and remote regions on the country’s aviation map by subsidising airlines for flying on select routes at a fixed fare—that can be loosely translated to ‘Let the common man fly’. The Udan scheme proposes that at least half the seats on every flight should have a fare cap of Rs 2,500 per seat per hour of flying.

Choubey said the Assam government has shown interest in Udan Version 2’ by allocating Rs 100 crore for three years for carriers willing to participate in the scheme. However, other states are yet to show interest in Udan International, he added.

The civil aviation secretary said the Centre has yet to work out details of Udan’s international version. It would entail bilateral agreements with neighbouring countries and slots at their airports.

He said India had witnessed the highest growth of 17.5 per cent in domestic aviation sector during the past three years in terms of Revenue Passenger Kilometres.

“If the oil prices are soft, we will grow at the rate of 15 per cent for the next 20 years,” Choubey said. He urged the state governments to reduce VAT on aircraft fuel to encourage the aviation sector.

The Centre is also looking at a model to develop state airports by creating joint ventures between state governments holding 49 per cent and the Airports Authority of India 51 per cent, where the state government funds the losses incurred by such airports for the first 10 years while the capital expenditure to develop such airports is spent by the Airports Authority of India, Choubey said.

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