Agencies, New Delhi
The year 2017 would be remembered as a year of growth helped by the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS, also known as UDAN) which paved the way for great expansion of India’s Civil Aviation sector by connecting even smaller towns of the country.
It was a year which passed without any loss of life in air, major accident along with no closure of any private airlines, but witnessed huge jump in air passengers and huge deals of aircraft.
The year will also be remembered as year which showed the opening of doors for Sea planes and Drones which will bring a sea change in the Indian Aviation sector. But this year gave a jolt to the sinking national Air carrier Air India which has gone under the debt of Rs 50,000 crores and the government has put it for privatisation.
During the year, passenger traffic continued to rise on the back of more regional flights and higher disposable income levels. As per estimates, the civil aviation market in India is all set to become the world’s third largest by 2020.
According to the latest data from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), passenger traffic during January-November 2017 zoomed 17.27 per cent to 105.9-million. The rise in passenger traffic aided airlines to post healthy quarterly figures and also place new aircraft orders in anticipation of future growth.
It is expected that by 2020, passenger traffic at Indian airports is expected to increase to 421-million. This year the game changer in the aviation was Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) also known as Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) which has enabled common people to fly at a cost of Rs 2500 for 500km.
The plan started in late 2016 but was launched in April 2017. Under first round of RCS, five airlines won bids to operate on 128 routes which will be connecting 70 airports. Out of 70 the airports, 31 are unserved and 12 under-served.
While under-served airports are those which do not have more than a flight a day, unserved airports are those where there are no operations.
The second round of bidding under the scheme saw as many as 141 initial proposals for air services, including operating aircraft and helicopters, on 502 routes have been received under the second round of regional air connectivity scheme.
The initial proposals involve 502 routes that seek to connect a total of 126 airports and helipads. These include 49 un-served and 15 under-served airports as well as 24 helipads, according to the civil aviation ministry. Out of the total proposals, 108 are for flying fixed wing aircraft and 33 for operating helicopters.
The scheme, which will be in operation for 10 years, envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served cities and towns by reviving existing airstrips and airports.
This would be achieved by providing financial stimulus in the form of central and state government concessions, as well as viability gap funding for interested airlines to kick off operations while ensuring passenger fares are kept affordable.