Civil aviation ministry launches UDAN 5.1 specifically designed for helicopter routes

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NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched UDAN 5.1 to further enhance connectivity to remote areas of the country and achieve last-mile connectivity through helicopters.

This follows four successful rounds of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) — Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) and with version 5.0 of the fifth round under way.

The main features of the 5.1 include an increase in the scope of operations for operators wherein the scheme will now allow routes where one of the origin or destination locations is in a priority area. Earlier, both points had to be in priority areas.

Air fare caps have been reduced by as much as 25 per cent to make flying in helicopters more affordable for passengers.

Image: Twitter/@MoCA_GoI

Viability Gap Funding (VGF) caps (subsidy) for the operators have been increased “substantially” for both single and twin-engine helicopters to enhance financial viability for operating the awarded routes.

“The latest round of the UDAN scheme is a testament to two emerging phenomenon in Indian civil aviation — one, a deeper democratisation of air travel with a focus on last-mile connectivity, and two, a growing appetite for helicopters in aiding tourism. Greater helicopter penetration through such efforts will help boost tourism, hospitality, and thus, our local economies. UDAN 5.1 heralds a new dawn not just for civil aviation, but also for India’s remote & unserved regions”, said Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia.

The current version of the scheme has been designed after consultations with all stakeholders including helicopter operators. While the intended target is to provide last-mile connectivity, it is also projected to give the helicopter segment of the Indian civil aviation industry a much-needed boost.

It may be mentioned that till date, 46 helicopter routes have been operationalised under previous rounds of the scheme, benefitting a number of hilly and Northeast states and this round is targeting coverage of a much larger number of routes.

The UDAN scheme has recently completed five years. The scheme was initiated in October 2016 with the objective of fulfilling the aspirations of the common citizen, with an enhanced aviation infrastructure and air connectivity in tier II and tier III cities.

The government has approved the ‘Revival of unserved and under-served airports’ scheme for the revival and development of 100 unserved and under-served airports, helipads and water aerodromes by 2024. It is an ongoing scheme where bidding rounds are conducted occasionally to cover more destinations or stations and routes. (ANI)

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