Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Government Sets Target Of Completing 220 Destinations By 2026 Under UDAN

August 25, 2022

The government has set a target of completing 220 destinations (airports/heliports/water aerodromes) under its ambitious ‘UdeDeshkaAamNagrik’(UDAN) by 2026 with 1000 routes to provide air connectivity to unconnected destinations in the country.

Under UDAN, 954 routes have already been awarded to connect 156 airports.

In the last five years, UDAN has significantly increased the regional air connectivity in the country. There were 74 operational airports in 2014 and because of the UDAN scheme, this number has increased to 141 as of now.

According to available information 68, underserved/unserved destinations which include 58 Airports, 8 Heliports and 2 Water Aerodromes have been connected under the UDAN scheme. With 425 new routes initiated under the scheme, UDAN has provided air connectivity to more than 29 States/ UTs across the length and breadth of the country.

More than one crore passengers have availed the benefits of this scheme as on August 4, 2022. The scheme has also provided a much-needed platform to the regional carriers to scale up their operations.

UDAN has completed five years of success since the launch of it first flight by  Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 27, 2017. The scheme was initiated on October 21, 2016 with the objective to fulfill the aspirations of the common citizen by following the vision of ‘UdeDeshkaAamNagrik’, with an enhanced aviation infrastructure and air connectivity in tier II and tier III cities.

Recently, Minister of Civil Aviation Jyotiraditya M. Scindia said, “The Success of RCS UDAN is a demonstration of the government’s commitment to  Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik’. It has played a great role in the transformation of Indian aviation industry. So far under this scheme, we have 425 routes aiming to go up to 1000 routes, 68 new airports aiming to touch 100 airports. In next 4 years we are expecting 40 crore travelers through Civil Aviation in India. That day is not far when along with rail transport and road transport Civil Aviation will become the bulwark of the transportation in India.”

RCS-UDAN was formulated based on the review of The National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP)-2016 and it was planned to remain in force for a period of 10 years. It has a self-financing mechanism with the development of Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF).

Under this Scheme, RCF was created, which funds the VGF requirements of the scheme through a levy on certain domestic flights. This way, funds generated from the sector themselves stimulate the growth and development of the sector.

UDAN Scheme has benefitted a diverse set of stakeholders. Passengers have got the benefits of air connectivity, airlines have received concessions for operating regional routes, unserved regions have received the direct and indirect benefits of air connectivity for their economic development.

UDAN created a framework based on the need and led to the formulation of Lifeline UDAN (for transportation of medical cargo during pandemic), Krishi UDAN (value realization of agriculture products especially in Northeastern Region (NER) and tribal districts) and International UDAN routes for NER to explore International Connectivity from / to Guwahati and Imphal.

Lifeline UDAN initiative commenced in March 2020 during COVID-19 period and it helped to operate 588 flights transporting almost 1000 Tonnes of voluminous cargo and essential medical services to various parts of the country.

RCS-UDAN was awarded Prime Minister’s Award for Excellence in Public Administration under Innovation Category for the year 2020.

Girja Shankar Kaura

The writer is a Delhi-based freelance journalist, who has reported and written on a wide range of subjects in an extensive career.