The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) launched the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS)-UDAN in October, 2016, to promote regional air connectivity in the country including North Eastern region and creating additional infrastructure by revival of unserved and underserved airports/airstrips. The scheme has been finalized after extensive consultation with all the stakeholders including State Governments. Suggestions were received from stakeholders including the states at the time of consultation with public/stakeholders on the draft Scheme.
The indicative list of underserved and unserved airports in India of the Scheme also includes Defence airports. However, for such airports, approval from Ministry of Defence needs to be obtained for permitting joint use/civil operation under 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.
A Regional Connectivity Fund (RCF) has been created under powers conferred under Rule 88-B of the Aircraft Rules, 1937 to provide the VGF requirements under the scheme. The Central Government has decided to impose a levy on the scheduled flights being operated within India to fund the Regional Connectivity Fund. However, following flights has been exempted from the above mentioned levy:;
i) Flights operated on CAT II/ CAT IIA routes as specified in Route Dispersal Guidelines issued under Rule 134 (1A).;
ii) Flights operated on RCS routes.;
iii) Flights operated with aircraft having maximum certified take off mass not exceeding 40,000 kg.
The payment of VGF will be made to selected airline operators from the RCF.
For imposing levy, amendment was done after consulting all stakeholders. Observations/ comments from different stakeholders including Federation of Indian Airlines (FIA) were considered before amending the rule ibid.
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.