“The scheme has been doing good and the response so far has been fantastic. We are currently operating in three routes and we are constantly working on starting operations on the other routes soon. This scheme has been launched to make air travel accessible to citizens in the regionally important cities and will benefit thousands of people as it will be connecting many unserved and underserved airports in the country,” Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation, told The Sunday Guardian. Apart from the three routes made operational in the first opening, the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) aims to connect all the 27 currently served airports, 12 underserved and 31 unserved airports. By the end of September this year, the Scheme aims to connect all the 70 airports. Among the routes that would be operational under this scheme by this year are Kolkata-Jamshedpur, Ahmedabad-Bhavnagar, Delhi-Ludhiana, Hyderabad-Pondicherry, Shillong-Imphal, Mysore-Chennai, Gwalior-Lucknow, Kanpur-Varanasi, Delhi-Kanpur, Raipur-Utkela, Utkela-Bhubaneswar, among many other routes, that would be connecting important cities with tier I and tier II cities.
As per specifications, 50% of the seats would have to be operated by the airlines under the RCS for operations through fixed wing aircraft.
The five airlines that have been awarded contracts through the first round of bidding to operate under the RCS scheme would have to cap their airfares to a maximum of Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey with proportionate pricing for routes of different stage lengths and flight duration. As per specifications, 50% of the seats would have to be operated by the airlines under the RCS for operations through fixed wing aircraft.
Koustabh Dhar, CEO of Zoom Air, told The Sunday Guardian: ‘The RCS scheme is a well thought-out, well researched and well structured scheme and this would help in catering to the growing demand in the aviation sector. This scheme would also give fantastic boost to the industry as it will help connect many unserved areas and would also help in the development of many new airports. However, the Ministry as well as the DGCA, would also have to keep in mind the safety of the passengers as many new players are entering the market to operate under this scheme.”