UDAN and RCS scheme – Opening aviation avenues in Assam




Be ready to fly at lower rates within Assam

The Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) had announced the National Civil Aviation Policy 2016 (NCAP 2016) with the objectives to enhance regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development and establish an integrated eco-system conducive to the growth of the civil aviation sector.

The Ministry has signed MoU on RCS-UDAN with the states of Mizoram, Puducherry, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Assam, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Chhattisgarh. A pre-bid meeting was held on 11-11-2016 with all the stakeholders including states and airline operators to facilitate the effective and efficient implementation of the scheme.

The primary objective of RCS is to facilitate/stimulate regional air connectivity by making it affordable. Promoting affordability of Regional air connectivity is envisioned under RCS by supporting airline operators through (i) concessions by Central Government, State Governments and airport operators to reduce the cost of airline operations on regional routes and (ii) financial support (Viability Gap Funding or VGF) to meet the gap, if any, between the cost of airline operations and expected revenues on such routes. RCS-UDAN is a demand-driven scheme, where airline operators undertake assessment of demand on particular routes. Special emphasis and aimed at promoting tourism, boosting employment and bringing a resultant balanced regional growth in the Northeast.

As far as Assam’s aviation scenario is concerned, other than Guwahati and Dibrugarh, a facelift can be seen in other airport infrastructures too .  Small airports like Jorhat, Tezpur, Lilabari and Silchar shall definitely get a boost in terms of increase in traffic and airport upgradation, which in turn will help the public to  fly in lower rates in Assam.

 

When it comes to passenger movement, the maximum fare has been capped at Rs 2500/- per ticket one way which is affordable for a flyer, with the most important aspect being time saving. A normal road distance is approximately 6-10 hours between each regional airports. A flight will take just 25-30 minutes one way.

RCS Airports under consideration:

  1. Jorhat Airport (IATA: JRH, ICAO: VEJT) (also known as Rowriah Airport) is located 7 kilometres South-West of Jorhat city, Assam. The civil enclave, run by the Airports Authority of India is the 4th major airport of Assam after Guwahati, Dibrugarh and Silchar (by number of daily flights and yearly passenger traffic). The nearest civil airport with regular flights is Mohanbari, Dibrugarh. The opening of this airport as an RCS airport will definitely boost the economy of  area and the airport infrastructure. Jorhat has everything to offer starting from medical college, engineering colleges, reputed AICTE approved technological institutes, river port which connects Majuli district, oil and natural gas industries, tea gardens. A private airline Zoom Air has already got clearance from the authorities to operate a small passenger airline to/fro Jorhat with a bombardier CRJ-200 plane  with 50 seater.

2. Silchar Airport

Silchar Airport (IATA: IXS, ICAO: VEKU) was built by the British in 1944 and is also a Civil enclave airport as it is under the control of Indian Air Force. The airport is situated on the foothills of the Barail range. It is the fourth busiest airport of the north-eastern India next to Guwahati, Imphal and Agartala. In 2013-14, Silchar Airport handled 206,000 passengers. Approximately 30 flights per week depart from the Silchar Airport for Imphal, Guwahati, Kolkata, Jorhat and Agartala. Plans are on to set up a new integrated terminal which would facilitate modern passenger comfort and accommodate more passengers.

This airport serves the entire Barak valley and the adjacent states of Mizoram and Manipur to some extent though they have their own airports in their capital cities. The hot tourist destination Halflong can be served from this airport . Like Jorhat, Silchar too has everything to offer in southern Assam including Barak valley- medical college, engineering college, university, military bases, tea gardens and overall a commercial hub of the entire region. Spice jet has already started their bombardier Q400 of 40-50 seats. Another airline Deccan charters also got the nod from the authorities to operate to/fro this airport.

3. Lilabari Airport (IATA: IXI, ICAO: VELR) is located in Lakhimpur of Assam. It also serves the state of Arunachal Pradesh. At present, the Lilabari airport in Lakhimpur is connected to Kolkata and Guwahati by an Air India Regional flight four days in a week i.e. Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Recently there have been plans made for expanding the service on a daily basis. The RCS may be a game changer for this airport as entire north bank district and surrounding towns Lakhimpur, Dhemaji along with State Arunachal Pradesh will be benefited.

4. Tezpur Airport (IATA: TEZ, ICAO: VETZ), also known as Salonibari Airport, is based on the village/township of Salonibari.The airfield in Tezpur was constructed by the British Royal Indian Air Force during World War II in 1942. It was used by the United States Army Air Forces Tenth Air Force as a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber base by the 7th Bombardment Group. After the war, it was subsequently developed into a full-fledged air force base in 1959. Since its inception, it has been one of the most active bases in the Northeast of India with a variety of fixed and rotary wing aircraft operating from there. At present, only one airline Air India subsidiary operates on alternate days. The RCS scheme will enhance this airport in a bigger way as potential of this area is more due to availability of military bases, medical college, central university, tea gardens and most recently inauguration of the government subsidized industrial parks in Balipara.

 




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