Daily News Analysis

UdeDeshKaAamNaagrik (UDAN)

2nd September, 2021 Economy

Context:

  • Government has written to Chief Ministers of Manipur and Haryana, Lieutenant Governors of Union Territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands and Jammu & Kashmir and Administrator of Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, for their personal intervention in expediting aviation infrastructure under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – UDAN (UdeDesh ka Aam Nagrik).

About UDAN Initiative:

  • UdeDeshKaAamNaagrik (UDAN) was launched as a regional connectivity scheme under the Ministry of Civil Aviation in 2016
  • It is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market
  • It aims to create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying be-comes affordable to the common man even in small towns
  • The scheme envisages providing connectivity to un-served and underserved airports of the country through the revival of existing airstrips and airports The scheme is operational for a period of 10 years
  • Under-served airports are those which do not have more than one flight a day, while unserved airports are those where there are no operations.

Objectives of UDAN

  • To make travel affordable and accessible to all
  • It aims to boost inclusive national economic development by the development of air transport infrastructure in all regions and the creation of job growth
  • Ensuring connectivity to the under-served areas in the country by the revival of existing airports and airstrips
  • Ministry aims to operationalize around 1000 routes and develop more than 100 airports in the next five years
  • The Ministry aims to achieve this by focusing on operationalizing routes in the priority areas.

Viability Gap Funding (VGF)

  • It signifies a grant, one-time or deferred, provided to support infrastructure projects that are economically justi-fied but fall short of financial viability
  • This scheme entails making the routes financially viable, without insisting on the financial viability of the regional airports, by lowering the cost of flight operations and through financial support in the form of VGF VGF will be available to flight operators on specific routes for the first 3 years of operation.

 

Previous Phases of UDAN

UDAN 1.0

  • Under this phase, 5 airline companies were awarded 128 flight routes to 70 airports (including 36 newly made operational airports

UDAN 2.0

  • In 2018, the Ministry of Civil Aviation announced 73 underserved and unserved airports
  • For the first time, helipads were also connected under phase 2 of the UDAN scheme

UDAN 3.0

  • Inclusion of Tourism Routes under UDAN 3 in coordination with the Ministry of Tourism
  • Inclusion of Seaplanes for connecting Water Aerodromes
  • Bringing in a number of routes in the North-East Region under the ambit of UDAN.

UDAN 4.0

  • the operation of helicopters and seaplanes has also been incorporated
  • It is in line with the Act East Policy of the Central Government

 

Achievements of UDAN:

  • Played a major role in adding new airports and routes to the aviation landscape of the country
  • Three rounds of UDAN have already been undertaken and so far close to 50 lakh passengers have travelled in UDAN flights covering airports in 19 States and 2 UTs
  • The Scheme has been able to fulfil the vision of Hon’ble Prime Minister and keep up the motto of “Sab Uden, Sab Juden”
  • During COVID-19 pandemic hundreds of Lifeline UDAN flights are operating these days to transport tons of medical cargo to various parts of the country
  • The remote and hilly areas are also getting covered
  • The Civil Aviation Ministry has operationalized 274 UDAN routes that have connected 45 airports and three heli-ports
  • Created a virtuous circle wherein the UDAN routes feed the national network and the national routes further create new opportunities for the people across the country who then generate demand for more regional routes

Challenges of UDAN

Lack of adequate Infrastructure

  • Lack of instrument landing systems (ILS) leads to flight cancellations and the repeated cancellations make it difficult to build traffic on the route on a sustained basis
  • Inclement weather conditions make it difficult for flights to land on the airports located on mountainous terrains on most days

Unplanned Traffic route

  • Unplanned Traffic routes further result in inaccurate network design which ultimately results in a flight delay

Under Capacity

  • India’s metro airports are largely choked and they have already run out of capacity in terms of landing and parking slots Passenger traffic in these airports continues to gallop at nearly 18-20% every year

Time slots

  • Finding convenient time slots for every route has become an administrative challenge This is because the number of runways is not increasing in high traffic airports and the airport capacity lags passenger traffic growth

Disconnectedness

  • New regional airlines have faced a major challenge in connecting the metro airports to the new Udan routes since they don’t have pre-existing slots in them

Way Forward

  • To generate steady, predictable traffic, a hub and spoke design should be followed by connecting the large metro airports to the new Udan routes, as opposed to a point-to-point service
  • The existing airlines should respond by ordering aircraft that could almost double the existing aircraft capacity in another three years