Bids for latest round of Indian regional connectivity programme to focus on route category 2 and 3

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Bids for latest round of Indian regional connectivity programme to focus on route category 2 and 3

The latest round of the Indian government's flagship scheme to strengthen air connectivity will focus on the route of Category 2 and Category 3, encompassing 20 80-seater aircraft and more than 80-seater aircraft.

The ministry of civil Aviation has announced the fifth bid round of the regional connectivity programme, possibly the world s largest such exercise to expand air connectivity to remote regions of the country.

This round of the Regional Connectivity Scheme - Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik - RCS UDAN will focus on route category 2 and route category 3 involving 20 80-seater aircraft and more than 80-seater aircraft. The previous length cap has been abolished, with no limit on the distance covered between the origin and destination of a flight being operated under the scheme.

Another significant feature is the enhancement in viability gap funding VGF to 600 km, from the previous 500 km, for both priority and non-priority areas. Besides, no predetermined routes are being offered, as only network and individual routes proposed by airlines will be considered.

Two months after issuance of the letter of award LoA, the airlines are required to submit an economic plan related to aircraft acquisition or availability of aircraft, crew, slots, etc. for the technical proposal.

To prevent monopolization of the program, no single airline will be awarded the same route, whether in different or the same networks. MoCA will also withdraw exclusive rights of operation if the average quarterly passenger load factor PLF is above 75 per cent for four continuous quarters.

In case an airline can't launch operations within four months of the award of a route, MoCA will deduct 25 percent from the performance guarantee deposited by it. This clause is designed to make flights more efficient. Earlier this year, the deadline was six months late.

The list of airports that are either ready or will soon be ready for operations has been included in the plan to enable faster operation of routes. The novation process for transferring routes from one operator to another has also been reduced.

The bid for the programme has proved to be a lifeblood of many regions which are now well connected with places across the country, he said on the latest bidding round for the scheme. This new and stronger version of the scheme will raise the momentum, linking new routes, and bring us closer to the target of operating 1,000 routes and 50 additional airports, heliports and water aerodromes in the near future. In 2017, more than 1.4 crore passengers have travelled by air on subsidies under RCS UDAN.