Centre move on Regional Connectivity Scheme may lead to economic viability
New Delhi: The government is considering a string of amendments with prospective effect on fresh forthcoming second round of bidding for its ambitious aviation Regional Connectivity Scheme, which may lead to more economic viability and boost in connectivity.
This will also move the focus towards “unserved routes” apart from “unserved” airports. According to suggested amendments, neither of the two destinations linked as part of the RCS may be either unserved airports although other conditions to be part of the scheme have to be met.
If the amendments go through, RCS air-traffic on routes such as the one from Lucknow to Varanasi (which happens to be PM Narendra Modi’s constituency) may receive a boost. Also, the rule stipulation that at least 50 per cent of the seats on the RCS flights have to be RCS (subsidised) seats may be removed and the percentage of such seats may fall.
“Before the launch of the second round of bidding, a stakeholder consultation meet will be held on June 7 to discuss the proposed amendments on certain key aspects,” the civil aviation ministry said on Wednesday. On the routes awarded during the first round of bidding, any amendments will not apply as these will be prospective and not restrospective.
“The civil aviation ministry)/AAI (Airports Authority of India) is in the process of taking stock of the RCS documents for making it more simpler so that more airline operators could participate for wider implementation of the scheme (RCS) across the country,” the ministry said.
“Presently, the scheme only allows a route to be classified as RCS route if at least one of the origin and/or destination airport is underserved or unserved. To further encourage intra-regional connectivity, one of the possible options could be to consider a route between two airports, both of which are neither underserved nor unserved as RCS route, subject to the satisfaction of other conditions of classifying a route as an RCS route.” the ministry said.
However, there may be no airfare cap (fare subsidy) for a year but concessions under RCS provided by the Central, state governments or airport operators could be availed. Also, while for fixed-wing aircraft operating on RCS routes, 50 percent of seats need to be RCS (subsided seats), there could be a re-think on this for flights in certain circumstances.
The state-run (AAI) has already issued letters of awards for 27 proposals. The Government said 27 currently served airports, 12 currently underserved airports and 33 currently unserved airports will be connected after the first round of bidding that has already taken place.