The government on Friday launched the fifth round of the regional air connectivity scheme to further enhance the connectivity to remote and regional areas.
Under UDAN 5.0, viability gap funding (VGF) will be capped at 600 kilometres stage length for both priority and non-priority areas, which was earlier capped at 500 km.
Besides, no pre-determined routes would be offered. Only network and individual route proposals by airlines will be considered, the civil aviation ministry said in a release.
Under the fifth round of Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) or Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), the focus will be on Category-2 (20-80 seats) and Category-3 (more than 80 seats). The release said the earlier stage length cap of 600 kilometres is waived and there is no restriction on the distance between the origin and destination of the flight.
Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia said this new and stronger version of the scheme will raise the momentum, connecting new routes and bring us closer to the target of operationalising 1,000 routes and 50 additional airports, heliports and water aerodromes in the near future.
According to the release, under UDAN 5.0, airlines would be required to submit an action/business plan after two months from the issuance of LoA (Letter of Acceptance), wherein they submit details about their aircraft acquisition plan/availability of aircraft, crew and slots at the time of the technical proposal.
The same route will not be awarded to a single airline more than once, whether in different networks or in the same network, it added.
Further, exclusivity will be withdrawn if the average quarterly PLF (Passenger Load Factor) is higher than 75 per cent for four continuous quarters to prevent exploitation of the monopoly on a route.
Airlines would be required to commence operations within four months of the award of the route. Earlier, this deadline was six months. The ministry said that 25 per cent of the performance guarantee amount will be encashed for each month of delay up to four months to further incentivise quick operationalisation of routes.
UDAN 5.0 is here with "game-changing features to fly into the future", the ministry said in a series of tweets.
The scheme was launched in 2017.
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