UDAN scheme across BIMSTEC region mooted by Sinha
The Dollar Business Bureau
Jayant Sinha, the Union minister for Civil Aviation proposed the Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) scheme that would connect the smaller towns across the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) region. Adding that such a move will be similar on the lines of the Open Sky Agreement that India enjoys with the SAARC countries, he said, "We can sign an MoU with different countries to be able to provide support for an UDAN-type scheme across the BIMSTEC community. Of course, we will have to couple that with something like an Open Sky Agreement so that airlines can fly freely," Sinha told reporters.
Under the Open Sky Agreement (OSA), signed in 2016, New Delhi is connected to all those nations/countries within a 5000 km radius allowing unlimited number of flights to six metros namely Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai with Jamaica, Guyana, Czech Republic, Finland, Spain and Sri Lanka.
India enjoys the following privileges under the OSA:
- Traffic rights with Oman renegotiated increasing the entitlements with 6,258 seats effective from Summer 2017 as the existing entitlements were nearly exhausted
- Increasing the capacity by 8000 seats per week from IATA season when Indian carrier’s utilization reaches 80%. This was in response to the needs of increasing traffic between the two countries where Indian carriers have been utilising open sky in Damman to mount more flights than the Saudi Arabian side.
- India also agreed with Ghana to increase the present allocation of frequencies to 7 per week to encourage connectivity
- Code sharing provides seamless connectivity to the travelling passengers and make possible connectivity between far off destinations not served by direct flights.
- Code sharing with Czech Republic, Portugal and Malaysia, domestic and international code shares including third country airlines with Guyana, removal of restriction of counting of capacity in case of code share with 3rd country carriers and domestic code share to additional two points to Mauritius, code share with 3rd country carriers and 4 additional domestic code share points with Saudi Arabia and Spain and code share with 3rd country carriers with Sri Lanka.
BIMSTEC countries include, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan, Nepal and SriLanka alongwith India.
The minister added that this was a suggestion and no formal talks have yet taken place with any of the BIMSTEC nations, but added that the idea was a doable one if all the countries agreed. The minister was speaking at a curtain raiser to mark the 20th anniversary of BIMSTEC.
Under the UDAN scheme the Centre plans to make airfare cheap for those from the 2 tier and 3 tier cities by capping airfares at Rs 2500/ hour.
The first flight of this nature was launched on the Delhi-Shimla air route. The government provides subsidy to the operators to aid them in keeping the fares low.