Airlines to fly to 31 new cities this year

Airlines to fly to 31 new cities this year

The cool hills of Kullu and Shimla will soon be just a short flight away from the sizzling plains of Delhi. Jaisalmer’s sand dunes will also be a hop away for Delhiites planning a winter vacation later this year. As many as 128 unconnected-by-air city pairs will get flights between April and September under the first phase of the Centre’s affordable regional connectivity scheme.

Five carriers — SpiceJet, Air India’s subsidiary Alliance Air, Air Deccan, Air Odisha and Turbo Megha — will operate on these routes, putting 31 unserved airports on the national flight map apart from utilising 12 under-served airports, the aviation ministry said on Thursday.

Half of the seats on 19 to 78-seater small planes (turboprops) operating on these routes will have a fare cap of Rs 2,500 per hour. Operators will get viability gap funding (VGF) from a fee levy on flights operated out of big cities, which will mean an increase in fares of about Rs 50 for passengers on those routes.
The first round of 128 RCS flights will require Rs 205 crore as VGF and for the 6.5 lakh seats seats which will be added to regional aviation. “This is the most efficient use of resources as a VGF of Rs 205 crore is adding 2% capacity to the Indian market,” said Union minister of state for aviation Jayant Sinha.
“In the century of civil aviation in India, only 76 airports were connected with schedule commercial flights. Now in one year, 33 airports which did not get flights will be on the air map. We are going to revive 50 airports in next two years in small towns. The second round of bidding for flights under RCS will happen much before the earlier envisaged gap of six months,” aviation secretary R N Choubey said. Asked how will consumer interest be protected with RCS attracting a number of small airlines, aviation minister A G Raju said, “When we start something new, we hope for the best.”

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