Indian Govt Aims to Expand UDAN Scheme to Connect Small Cities to Overseas Destinations
Assam government aims to invest Rs 300 crore to start flights from Guwahati to Southeast Asian destinations.
The success of the Indian government’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme for regional connectivity has driven it to extend the initiative for international flights, aviation secretary Rajiv Nayan Choubey said. “We are calling it UDAN international,” Choubey said at the Wings India 2018 event at Hyderabad on March 8, Business Today reported.
The government of Assam has already shown an interest to connect the Guwahati airport to many Southeast Asian locations, Choubey added. “The Assam government has expressed interest to invest Rs 100 crore a year, for three years (a total of Rs 300 crore) to start flights to Southeast Asian destinations,” Livemint quoted him as saying.
The central government will only help in facilitating the bidding process for UDAN International, while the funds will have to be invested by the state government. Choubey added that the other states have not yet shown interest in UDAN international.
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had earlier discussed the procedures to start direct flights between Guwahati and ASEAN countries with AirAsia CEO Amar Abrol. The Assam government also offered to provide a subsidy to make direct flights to ASEAN nations feasible for operators, the Economic Times had reported earlier.
Guwahati’s new integrated international terminal is expected to be completed by 2021. Spanning across 90,000 sq.m, it will feature 20 aircraft parking bays, 64 check-in counters, eight immigration counters, eight customs counters, and six arrival carousels.
“We have 800 million people in and around us in the south east. This is a great market and through implementation of Act East Policy we want to take the development forward,” Sonowal had said when the foundation stone of the new Integrated Terminal Building was laid at the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport on Jan. 28, according to IANS. The interiors of the building will showcase local handicrafts, murals and popular tourist destinations of Assam.
The government is also planning to amend the Airports Authority of India Act that will allow developers of brown field airports to monetize city-side land. “The Act specifically mentioned that the land usage of the city-side airport will be for passengers. There is a limit to how many hotels you can build outside the airport only for passengers. There is a need to relax that. We are working on amending the Airports Authority of India Act towards that end,” Choubey added, according to livemint.com.
India is the world’s third largest market in domestic aviation when it comes to the number of tickets sold, according to the recent economic survey report. In 2017 from April to September, domestic airlines carried 57.50 million passengers, showing a growth rate of 16 per cent over the corresponding previous year period, with 10.30 percent domestic cargo handled, the survey said.