UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, an endeavor to make regional connectivity easy but this has come as a bane for Belagavi which was an operational airport while boon for Hubballi which was unserved airport. UDAN scheme seeks to promote regional connectivity by serving the unserved and under-served airports as Belagavi was an operational airport it could not be brought under the UDAN scheme. But what has happened is due to the benefits of the UDAN scheme Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has planned to divert all its 5 flights from Belagavi from May 14 to Hubballi and operate from there leaving the Sambra airport been unserved.
The Belagavi airport which was started by the Royal British Army way back in 1942 has seen the ups and downs and was also an unserved airport for a lot of time. An unserved airport is one to which there is no daily service, while an under-served airport is one which has not seen a flight for two consecutive flight schedules.
UDAN — Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik — is a regional aviation scheme that encourages airlines to fly to under-served airports. The subsidized scheme requires airlines to sell a certain number of seats (between nine and 40) at a maximum fare of Rs 2,500 per hour of flying.
As many as 70 airports, including 31 unserved and 12 under-served ones, would be connected with the UDAN flights. Under the scheme, on each flight, 50 percent of the seats would have a cap of Rs 2,500 per seat/hour.
The government is expected to compensate for the loss with a Viability Gap Funding (VGF) of about Rs. 3,000 per seat.
The VGF will be used to bridge the gap between the cost of airline operations and expected revenue. Airline operators would be extended VGF estimated to be around Rs 205 crore per annum for the operators chosen in the first round of bidding. So far, 19 States and three union territories have signed a MoU for this purpose.
The scheme includes various benefits like no airport charges and three-year exclusivity on the routes.
The decision of SpiceJet to divert all its flights to Hubballi has been seen as a major surprise as all expected that it would divert 2 flights out of the 5 it was operating to Hubballi.
Now what happens to Belagavi airport?
Technically if no new airlines start operations here which can be even big Boeing and Airbus planes, it can be termed as an UNSERVED airport and eventually we could see Belagavi in the RCS map in Phase 3 which is likely to released at the end of the year or early next year.
Experts also feel political lobbying in Hubballi is too good whereas there is nil lobbying here which also has an impact on the operator.
The diversion of flights to Hubballi under UDAN is a welcome step for them but why should a city suffer and another gain, it should be that both cities must grow.