The Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on Thursday has given the nod to ‘revive’ and ‘develop’ the un-served and under-served airports across the country under its Regional Connectivity Scheme. The Cabinet that is chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has proposed to spend Rs 4,500 crore for this mega infrastructure project that aims to revamp the air strips of State Governments, Airports Authority of India (AAI), Civil enclaves, CPSUs, helipads and water aerodromes that are currently not in their best shape.
According to Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, this decision will help in boosting regional air connectivity infrastructure across the country. He also said that the ministry has received huge response from the airlines in two rounds of Regional Connectivity Scheme bidding held so far.
During the first round of UDAN bidding which took place in March, 2017, 128 routes were assigned to five airline operators for 43 un-served/underserved airports/airstrips. The second round of Regional Connectivity Scheme bidding saw an increased response rate from airline operators in which 86 proposals involving 325 routes were awarded to 15 selected airline operators in January, 2018.
According to a government statement, “As an outcome, small cities/towns shall be connected on commencement of operation of flights to under-served/un-served airports and it will further boost the economic development in these as well as surrounding areas in terms of job creation and related infrastructure development.”
The statement also points out that the revival of airstrips/airports will be ‘demand driven’, depending upon firm commitment from airline operators as well as from the State Governments for providing various concessions as airports will be developed without insisting on its financial viability.