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Government unveils UDAN, fares capped at Rs. 2500 for 1-hour flights

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Fliers on major domestic routes will soon have to shell out more for flights to fund the government’s regional connectivity scheme announced under which fares will be capped at Rs. 2,500 for half of the seats in one-hour flights.

The cap on fares would be reviewed periodically based on Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers and would also vary in tune with duration of a flight under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS), which has been named ‘UDAN’.

The government expects the first flight under this scheme to take off in January.

A “first of its kind” in the world, UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) will be based on market mechanism as well as bidding for a minimum of 9 seats and a maximum of 40 seats in a fixed wing aircraft.

The ministry said the policy is its contribution to Prime Minister’s Narendra Modi’s vision of taking air transport to the masses and coined a new word to describe the mission: UDAN or Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (Let the common citizen fly).

The UDAN logo also unusually sported a four-engine plane—typically considered a fuel guzzler and used for long-haul flights, rather than for regional connectivity.

“We are cautiously optimistic about it,” aviation minister Ashok Gajapati Raju said of UDAN. “You can have non-functional airports but you can’t have non-functional airlines.”

Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said the rules related to the levy will be “printed in the gazette in two days” while the executive order in this regard will be ready by month-end. The levy will be “very small”, he added.

Charging a levy on profitable routes is likely to push the air fare for fliers.

“This is first of its kind globally… We are doing something not done anywhere else,” Minister of State Jayant Sinha said.

The fares will be capped at Rs. 2,500 for one-hour flights on unserved and under-served routes.

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