The Ministry of Civil Aviation has released UDAN 5.1

To improve connectivity to rural areas of India, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has introduced UDAN 5.1, an extension of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN).

What exactly is UDAN 5.1?

  • This phase focuses on helicopter routes, with the goal of achieving last-mile connectivity.
  • It enables operators to run routes where one of the origin or destination destinations, such as hilly regions, islands, or North East states, is in a priority area.

The scheme’s characteristics

  • Operators can now run routes when one of the origin or destination sites is in a priority area, as opposed to the previous requirement that both points be in priority areas.
  • Cut Airfare Caps: Helicopter flight caps have been cut by up to 25%, making helicopter travel more economical for passengers.
  • Enhanced sustainability Gap Funding (VGF) Caps: To improve the financial sustainability of operating the granted routes, VGF caps for operators using single and twin-engine helicopters have been significantly enhanced.
  • Expansion of Coverage: UDAN 5.1 seeks to cover a much greater number of routes than prior rounds, expanding the benefits of air connectivity to hitherto unserved areas.

The Importance of UDAN 5.1

  • Democratisation of Air Travel and Last-Mile Connectivity: UDAN 5.1 reflects a deeper democratisation of air travel, with an emphasis on delivering last-mile connectivity to India’s distant regions.
  • Consultations and Stakeholder Engagement: The current programme was developed following thorough consultations with all stakeholders, including helicopter operators.

Way Ahead

  • Ensure proper implementation of UDAN 5.1, taking into account the extended scope of operations, lowered airfare caps, and enhanced VGF caps.
  • Collaboration with Operators: Encourage collaboration and engagement with helicopter operators to optimise last-mile connectivity and encourage the expansion of the civil aviation industry’s helicopter segment.
  • Evaluation and monitoring: Create a strong monitoring and evaluation system to examine the impact of UDAN 5.1 on rural regions, air travel affordability, and economic development.
  • Tourism Promotion: Take advantage of growing helicopter penetration to encourage tourism in distant locations, benefiting the hotel industry and local economy.
  • Future growth: Evaluate the possibilities for further growth of the UDAN scheme on a regular basis, taking into account new routes and modes of transport to increase connection to underserved parts of India.
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