An Air India Ltd. aircraft prepares to land at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Government Invites Bids For Round Three Of UDAN Routes 

The government has invited bids from interested operators for the third round of auctions for the UDAN scheme. The scheme is the centre’s initiative to subsidise airfare to connect small cities and help more masses fly.

The move comes on the heels of government last month seeking bids for the international version of the scheme to enhance air connectivity to select overseas destinations.

Significantly, the much-trumpeted scheme had not met with the desired success level as more than half the routes granted in the first round of bids, which were auctioned in early 2017, are yet to become operational.

The initial bids for the third round can be submitted to the Airports Authority of India by Dec. 10, while the airlines winning the routes will be announced by Jan. 7, says the notice inviting e-proposals posted on the RCS portal.

The AAI is the implementing agency of the UDAN scheme that was announced in March 2016.

A pre-bid meeting with prospective bidders will also be held on Nov. 6, says the RCS portal. The government had in 2016 announced the UDAN scheme wherein the fares would remain capped at Rs 2,500 for a one- hour journey for connecting smaller towns.

Following this, five airlines got the licence to operate on 128 routes in the first round of auctions in March 2017. The second round saw 15 airlines on 325 routes, including those having chopper operations.

Usha Padhee, joint secretary in the aviation ministry, tweeted on the third round of bidding.

Two scheduled commuter airlines--Air Odisha and Air Deccan--were mandated to fly on 50 and 34 routes, respectively, of the total 128 routes in the first round.