The union cabinet has approved a Rs4,500-crore revival package for development of unserved and under-served air strips of state governments, Airports Authority of India, civil enclaves, CPSUs, helipads and water aerodromes, as part of the third round of regional air connectivity programme under UDAN.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA), chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday gave its approval for extension of time and scope for revival and development of un-served and under-served air strips of state governments, AAI, civil enclaves, CPSUs, helipads and water aerodromes at the total cost of Rs4,500 crore with the budgetary support of government of India.
As an outcome, small cities/towns shall be connected on commencement of operation of flights to under-served/un-served airports and it will further boost the economic development in these as well as surrounding areas in terms of job creation and related infrastructure development.
The ministry has received overwhelming response from the airlines in two rounds of RCS bidding held so far. In the first round of UDAN bidding, 128 routes were assigned to five airline operators for 43 un-served/underserved airports/airstrips on 31 March 2017. The response from airline operators have considerably improved in second round of RCS bidding wherein 86 proposals involving 325 routes were awarded to 15 selected airline operators in January 2018.
During RCS-UDAN version 1.0 and 2.0, 66 airports were identified and 31 heliports (28 unserved heliports and 3 unserved airports). During UDAN version 3.0, to increase the tourism potential at the coastal areas, tourism routes in coordination with the ministry of tourism and seaplanes for connecting water aerodromes were included.
Finance minister Arun Jaitley while presenting the budget for 2016-17, inter-alia, announced making adequate provisions for revival of unserved and underserved airports. The union cabinet approved the proposal for revival of 50 un-served/under-served airports/airstrips of state governments, Airports Authority of India, civil enclaves and central public sector undertakings. The revival of airstrips/airports will be 'demand driven', depending upon firm commitment from airline operators as well as from the state governments for providing various concessions as airports will be develop without insisting on its financial viability.
India has a vast coastline of approximately 7,500 km and is dotted with numerous water bodies which can be exploited for establishment of water aerodrome. A network of water aerodromes along with land-based airports will improve air connectivity and be particularly useful for localised short-distance travelling. Therefore, it was decided to develop/operate water aerodromes in India with aviation expertise of AAI and cooperation of state governments.