Regional flights for ₹2,500 to become reality soon

Passengers will soon be able to fly on as many as 128 routes connecting 70 airports across the country by paying ₹2,500 for an hour’s flight. The government on Thursday announced a list of routes awarded to five airlines which will operate flights under its regional connectivity scheme (RCS).

“We will be adding up 44 new destinations with the launch of RCS. Flying was a rich man’s prerogative earlier, but now it has also become a common man’s prerogative,” Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju said.

Low-cost airline SpiceJet, Air India subsidiary Alliance Air, Turbo Megha Airways, Air Deccan and Air Odisha Aviation won the rights to operate flights under the regional connectivity scheme.

Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey said that the first regional flight may likely begin its operations in April. “In the first round of bidding, the airlines focussed on airports that are ready to take flights. The deadline to start operating regional flights is September,” Mr. Choubey said.

Some of the airports that will soon witness regional flights include: Bhatinda, Shimla, Agra, Bikaner, Gwalior, Kadapa, Ludhiana, Nanded, Pathankot, Vidyanagar, Andal, Burnpur, Cooch Behar, Jamshedpur, Rourkela, Bhavnagar, Diu, Jamnagar, Adampur, Kandla and Kanpur (Chakeri), among others.

As per the scheme, the Centre will subsidise the losses incurred by airlines flying out of dormant airports to help airlines charge ₹2,500 for an hour’s flight to passengers. 80% of the subsidy will be collected by charging a levy of up to ₹8,500 on each departing flight of domestic airlines and the rest 20 % will come from the respective State governments.

“The scheme has a unique market-based design. We have a successful national and international aviation market but an underdeveloped regional market. This scheme will stimulate growth in the regional market,” Minister of State Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said.

He said the airlines who won the first round of bidding under the scheme will require a subsidy of ₹205 crore for running their operations and this will lead to an addition of 13 lakh seats in the regional aviation market.