By Raju Vernekar
With a view to increase air connectivity in the North East region, the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation has invited bids for 30 airports and airstrips and one water aerodrome under UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik) 4.0 scheme.
They include six under-served and 24 un-served airports/airstrips in the North-East states. A list of under-served airports / airstrips up for bidding include: Arunachal Pradesh (Passighat andTezu), Assam( Jorhat, Rupsi, Tezpur) and Meghalaya(Shillong).
The un-served airports / airstrips up include: Arunachal Pradesh( Alinya, Along, Daparizo, Mechuka, Tuting, Vijaynagar, Walong, Yinghiong, Ziro), Assam (Chabua, Darrang, Dinjan, Ledo, Misa Mari, Nazira, Sadiya, Sorbhog, Sukerating (Dum Duma), Meghalaya(Dwara, Shella, Tura) and Tripura(Kailashahar, Kamalpur, Khowai). The ministry has also recognized Umrangso Reservoir in Assam as the water aerodrome (for Seaplanes) location that is up for bidding in the region.
The concessions and facilities offered are: The civil aviation ministry will bear 90% of viability Gap Funding (VGF) and remaining 10% VGF will be borne by the North Eastern state governments The civil aviation ministry is also providing additional VGF of around 25% to the airlines.
VGF cap has been enhanced for operations of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) flights in priority areas, in Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir; the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, North Eastern States, Union Territory of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar.
The VGF cap applicable for various stage lengths for operation has also been enhanced for “below 20 seater small aircrafts” under the Scheme. VGF will be provided for RCS Flights for a period of three years from the date of commencement of RCS flight operations.
Excise Duty at the rate of only 2% will be levied on Aviation Turbine Fuel (ATF), drawn by selected airline operators at RCS airports for RCS Flights, for three years from the date of notification. Reduction of Value added Tax (VAT) to 1% or less on ATF at RCS concession airports located within the state for a period of 10 years from the date of notification.
There is a provision to make available minimum land, if required, free of cost and free from all encumbrances for development of RCS concession airports and also provide multi-modal hinterland connectivity (road, rail, metro, waterways, etc.) as required.
There is a provision of free security and fire services at RCS airports. Besides there is provision to make available directly or through appropriate means, electricity, water and other utility services at substantially concessional rates at RCS concession airports. State Governments, at their discretion, may consider extending any additional support (such as marketing support) for promotion of RCS Flights.
Concessions offered by the airport / Water Aerodrome / Helipad operators are: airport / water aerodrome / helipad operators will not levy landing and parking charges or any other charges on RCS flights including aviation security fee (ASF) / User Development Fee( UDF) among others.
Selected airline operators will be allowed to undertake ground handling for their RCS flights. Besides AAI will not levy any Terminal Navigation Landing Charges (TNLC) on RCS flights. Also Route Navigation and Facilitation Charges (RNFC) will be levied by AAI on a discounted basis @ 42.50% of normal rates on RCS Flights.
The civil aviation ministry aims to operationalize 1000 routes and more than 100 airports in the next five years in the country. AAI would focus on developing the no-frills airport in future and routes connecting such airports would be prioritized for the award of VGF. The market would be incentivized to develop “short-haul routes” providing connectivity to nearby airports.The move is aimed at boosting tourism, providing aerial connectivity and transforming the economic situation of the region.
UDAN-RCS, is a regional airport development and RCS of the Government of India, devised with the objective of “letting the common citizen of the country fly”, to make air travel affordable and widespread, to boost inclusive national economic development, job growth and air transport infrastructure development of all regions and states.
UDAN-RCS was launched on 27 April 2017. At the beginning of the scheme, out of total 486 airports, 406 were unserved airports, 27 were well served. UDAN scheme seeks to develop and operationalize unserved, underserved and underdeveloped regional airports with regular scheduled flights. The scheme also aims at developing new airports. Eventually increasing the number of operational airports for scheduled civilian flights including army airports to at least 150 airports.
Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]
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