Civil Aviation Minister Scindia Seeks Expansion Of Affordable Air Connectivity
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said that the ministry will continue to make efforts to enhance air connectivity to the unserved and underserved regions in collaboration with the stakeholders like airlines and airport operators.
Seeking expansion of regional connectivity, Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has written to chief ministers of Manipur and Haryana, lieutenant governors of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Jammu and Kashmir, and administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli for their personal intervention in expediting aviation infrastructure under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – UDAN (Ude Deshka Aam Nagrik).
The RCS-UDAN scheme was launched by Civil Aviation Ministry in 2016 to enhance regional air connectivity from unserved and underserved airports by making air travel affordable to the masses.
While writing to Manipur Chief Minister N Biren Singh, Scindia said that Airports Authority of India (AAI) has awarded heliports at Jiribam, Tamenglong, Moren, Parbung and Thanlon for connecting various destinations in North Eastern Region under the UDAN Scheme.
These heliports are to be developed by the state government. He further informed that the ministry has earmarked Rs 15 crore for Jiribam, Rs 8 crore for Moreh, Rs 8.5 crore for Parbung, Rs 8 crore for Tamenglong and Rs 13.5 crore for Thanlon for upgradation/development of heliports, to be released to the state government on reimbursement basis.
Similarly, Scindia wrote to Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal informing that Hissar and Ambala airports have been awarded under UDAN for connecting various destinations. Civil Aviation Ministry has earmarked Rs 33 crore for Hissar airport and Rs 40 crore for Ambala airport for upgradation of infrastructure, provided to the state government on reimbursement basis.
Requesting the state government for expediting the expansion of runway and other airport related activities on priority, Scindia said that new potential routes from Hissar under RCS-UDAN, may be started after upgradation of airport.
Writing to Admiral D K Joshi (Retd), Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Scindia has drawn his attention towards development of water aerodromes under RCS-UDAN.
The construction works of infrastructure for the proposed water aerodromes at Swaraj Dweep, Shaheed Dweep and Long Island has been entrusted to Andaman and Lakshadweep Harbour Works (ALHW), an agency under the Ministry of Shipping.
Being a time-bound project, requisite approval process needs to be expedited to ensure timely operationalisation of seaplane services in Andaman and Nicobar Islands under UDAN.
Water aerodrome at Port Blair project involves the selected airline ‘Spicejet’ intends to operate with non-amphibious seaplane on the awarded routes between Port Blair-Swaraj Dweep, Port Blair-Shaheed Dweep and Port Blair-Long Island.
This has necessitated development of water aerodrome facility at Port Blair also. UT administration is requested to identify the new location at Port Blair at the earliest and intimate the same to AAI for necessary prefeasibility survey etc.
Scindia has said that to promote international flights by airlines, the Andaman and Nicobar Administration has also relaxed the VAT on ATF from 10 per cent to zero.
Similarly, the Ministry of Defence has also waived off landing charges at Port Blair Airport for a period of three years for international flights. In this context, Ministry of Civil Aviation had consultations with Indian carriers regarding international operations from Port Blair. Airlines have expressed their willingness to undertake international UDAN operations with viability gap funding (VGF) support.
He further added that Union Territory Administration, if it considers appropriate, may convey their consent to provide 100 per cent VGF support for international UDAN operations from Port Blair to international destinations like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok etc.
On receipt of the consent of the UT Administration for 100 per cent VGF support, routes will be offered for bidding for the airlines as per the provisions of UDAN International template.
While writing to Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha, Scindia has said that AAI had recently offered routes — ‘Kargil-Jammu-Kargil’ and ‘Kargil-Srinagar-Kargil’ in special round of bidding under UDAN-4.1.
However, no bid has been received for these offered routes. The Ministry of Civil Aviation will continue to make efforts to enhance air connectivity to the unserved regions in collaboration with the stakeholders like airlines and airport operators from time to time.
Scindia further informed that the Ministry of Civil Aviation has held consultation with Indian carriers for commencing international operations from Srinagar.
Airlines have expressed their willingness to undertake international UDAN operations with VGF support.
He added that UT Administration, if it considers appropriate, may give their consent to provide VGF support for International (UDAN) operations from Srinagar to Dammam, Sharjah and Muscat. On receipt of the consent of the UT Administration for VGF support, routes will be offered for bidding for the airlines during next round as per the provisions of the scheme document.
Writing to Administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Praful K Patel, Scindia has mentioned that AAI had recently offered routes — ‘Daman-Diu-Daman’ & ‘Daman-Ahmedabad-Daman’ in special round of bidding under UDAN-4.1.
The bids received are at advanced stage of evaluation and are likely to be finalised soon. Daman airport belongs to Indian Coast Guard and it is understood that UT administration is developing a civil enclave there.
The ministry has earmarked Rs 58 crore for upgradation of Daman Airport, to be provided to UT administration on reimbursement basis.
While seeking the personal intervention of Patel in initiating action on priority for establishment of civil enclave at Daman, Scindia expressed his commitment towards strengthening of civil aviation infrastructure in Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
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