The Ministry of Civil Aviation has introduced UDAN 5.1, an extension of the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) - Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), to further improve connectivity to remote areas of India and achieve last-mile connectivity through helicopters. This marks the first time that a round of RCS-UDAN is dedicated specifically to helicopter routes.
Key Features of UDAN 5.1
Key features of UDAN 5.1 include an expansion of operational scope for operators, allowing routes where either the origin or destination location is in a priority area. Earlier, both points had to be in priority areas.
Airfare caps have also been reduced by up to 25 percent to make helicopter travel more affordable for passengers. Additionally, Viability Gap Funding (VGF) caps for operators of single and twin-engine helicopters have been significantly increased to enhance financial viability for operating the awarded routes.
Boosting Tourism and Economic Development
Shri Jyotiraditya M Scindia, Union Minister of Civil Aviation and Steel, expressed that UDAN 5.1 signifies the democratization of air travel and the growing role of helicopters in promoting tourism. The scheme is expected to boost tourism, hospitality, and local economies, particularly in remote and underserved regions of India.
Expanding Reach with Helicopter Routes
The current version of UDAN has been developed in collaboration with helicopter operators and aims to provide last-mile connectivity while revitalizing the helicopter segment of the Indian civil aviation industry.
Previous rounds of the scheme have already operationalized 46 helicopter routes, benefiting hilly regions and states in the Northeast. UDAN 5.1 seeks to cover an even larger number of routes.
Economic Development of Unserved Regions
UDAN has successfully facilitated air connectivity for passengers, granted concessions to airlines operating regional routes, and contributed to the economic development of unserved regions.
The latest version of the scheme aligns with the Hon'ble Prime Minister's vision of enabling affordable air travel for the common man to remote destinations in the country.