India’s Economic Times has reported that the Indian government plans to operationalize 100 airports by 2024, subject to statutory approvals and the availability of supporting infrastructure such as land.
This operationalization forms part of the country’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) plan, in which selected airline operators (SAOs) have operationalized nearly 68 airports and 425 routes, alongside heliports and water aerodromes. The RCS is a market-driven scheme under which airlines assess the demand and nature of supply required on a particular route and, based on their analysis, participate in the bidding process.
The primary objective of RCS is to facilitate regional air connectivity by making it affordable. The renewed plan for the operationalization of 100 airports follows the suspension of scheduled commercial operations and reduced passenger demand during the Covid-19 pandemic. By operationalizing these airports, the government intends to address the financial health of the affected airlines by reforming policy for the operational sustainability of RCS-UDAN following the Covid-19 pandemic. To support stakeholders and passengers’ air connectivity, these reforms will include operational and financial relaxations, such as a concession from the government to reduce the cost of airline operations on regional routes. There will also be viability gap funding (VGF) support to meet the gap, if any, between the cost of airline operations and expected revenues on such RCS routes.
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