The early operationalisation of 56 airports under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN – Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik – will be among the top focus areas of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) according to Union Minister for Civil Aviation Suresh Prabhu, reports PTI. In March 2017, 128 routes were awarded under UDAN to various airlines of which close to half are yet to be operational.
The first phase of UDAN saw five airlines – Air Deccan, Alliance Air, TruJet, SpiceJet and Air Odisha – being awarded 128 routes to connect 70 airports of which 31 were unserved and 12 were underserved.
Prabhu said that the ministry would focus on operationalising 56 airports as early as possible as well as setting up cargo handling facilities. He also said that the ministry would focus on setting up better passenger amenities under the Centre’s NextGen Airports for Bharat (NABH) Nirmal scheme.
Under NABH Nirman which was announced during the Union Budget on 1 February, the Centre is looking to expand the capacity of airports to handle a billion trips a year – nearly five times of the current handling capacity – for both passenger and cargo.
UDAN was officially rolled out last year by former civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju. A total 45 routes were announced in the first round.
Following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s seaplane trip during the Gujarat assembly elections in December, the Centre announced plans to set up a seaplane policy for regional connectivity under the second phase of UDAN.