A Jet Airways (India) Ltd. aircraft takes off at Mumbai Airport (Photographer:Santosh Verma/Bloomberg News)  

IndiGo, Jet Airways Win Routes In Second Round Of UDAN

India’s biggest airline by market share IndiGo and full-service carrier Jet Airways Ltd. joined the regional connectivity scheme as the government doubled the number of airports under its plan to connect smaller cities to the aviation grid.

It awarded routes to 29 unserved airports to five airlines in the second round of UDAN, in addition to existing 31, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said at a press conference in New Delhi today. The government also added 31 helipads to the network.

IndiGo, operated by parent InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., SpiceJet Ltd., Jet Airways, Zoom Air and Turbo Megha Airways won the fresh routes. State-run Pawan was awarded helicopter routes.

UDAN subsidises tickets to unserved and underserved cities to boost regional connectivity and make air travel affordable. The participating airlines are compensated by the central and respective state governments.

The government will see an annual subsidy outgo of Rs 620 crore for viability gap funding under the second round, Sinha said. The funds would be raised by levying fees on non-UDAN routes, and through an arrangement with the Airports Authority of India, he said.

Some carriers which bid for routes even offered to forego the subsidy, Sinha said. The government intends to continue offering subsidies for regional routes.

The carriers would be given six months to start flights or risk losing the routes, Sinha said. But a few airports which are still under construction may not meet the deadline, he said.

Even the progress on airports brought under UDAN in the first round has been slow. Of the 31 unserved airports that were to be added to the network, flights have commenced to only 16. Air Deccan and Air Odisha are yet to start operations almost a year since they won the routes. The two carriers are expected to start flights by March 31, Aviation Secretary RN Chaubey said.