Air Odisha flying under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN

Air Odisha flying under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN

Air Odisha launched its maiden services under the regional connectivity scheme Udan with Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani inaugurating the first flight to Mundra from here.
The Bhubaneswar-based carrier, mandated to fly on 50 regional routes, had received its scheduled commuter operator (SCO) permit from the aviation regulator DGCA last Tuesday.
The permit allows a carrier to operate as a scheduled commuter airline. Significantly, Air Odisha, promoted by the Radhakant Pani family of Odisha, has offloaded 60 per cent stake to the Ahmedabad-based firms GSEC Aviation and Monarch Network.
Besides Mundra, the carrier also rolled out services on the Ahmedabad-Jamnagar route and plans to launch flights to Diu from Ahmedabad as well in the first phase of rollout, Air Deccan founder G R Gopinath said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has agreed to inaugurate the Diu flight on February 25, he said. GSEC Aviation and Monarch Networth have made “strategic investment” in both Air Deccan and Air Odisha.
“Udan aims to provide air facility to the common man through regional connectivity. Till now, Rajkot, Bhavnagar, Jamnagar, Surat were all connected to Mumbai, but with this service, these cities will be connected to Ahmedabad,” Rupani told reporters on the sidelines of the event.
Air Odisha has deployed a 19-seater Beechcraft 1900D aircraft for carrying out these services. The air operator will also provide connectivity from Ahmedabad to Bhavnagar and onward to Surat in the coming days.
Speaking at the event, Gopinath said it was a “dream come true” moment for him to see the venture taking off. Gopinath, the pioneer of low-cost flying in India, said his air charter company had sought permission to fly on this route in 2013 but the then UPA government did not give him the go-ahead due to political reasons.
He said Air Deccan and Air Odisha have formed a joint venture with GSEC Aviation and Monarch Networth Capital to grow the network and infrastructure together.
Gopinath, however, refused to divulge the details of investment made by the two companies or the quantum of the stake sold by the two carriers.
The JV was necessitated to get a scale as the number of the aircraft by one company was not sufficient for that scale, he said. Gopinath, however, said both Air Odisha and Air Deccan will continue to fly as different airlines.
Air Deccan has bagged 34 routes to operate under `Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
Today other carriers, including state-run Air India, operate on not more than 35-40 routes but Air Deccan and Air Odisha together plan to fly to 62 airports with a combined fleet of 13 aircraft over the next 4-5 months, he said.
Gopinath said Air Deccan plans to launch services from Kolkata to Jamshedpur, Coochbihar, Rourkela, Durgapur and Bagdogra on February 28 followed by flights to Shillong, Dimapur, Aizawal and Silchar from Kolkata.
It plans to connect towns like Bhubaneshwar, Utkela, Raipur, Ranchi, Gwalior, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bhavnagar, Selam and Puducherry, among others.
Air Odisha and Air Deccan are already start their operations under the government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) from 15 December, aviation secretary R.N. Choubey said.
The two carriers, between them, have 84 of the total 128 routes that were awarded under the RCS in March but they missed the six-month deadline, which ended in September, to start operations. “They (Air Odisha and Air Deccan) have said that from December 15 many of their flights will start operating,” Choubey told reporters at the Second Aero Expo in New Delhi.
The two carriers are likely to start their operations with a combined fleet of four aircraft, the aviation secretary added. They will get 10 slots at the Delhi Airport for their RCS flights. Talks are also underway for granting them slots at the Mumbai airport, according to sources.
The two operators would be flying 19-seater Beachcraft B-1900D aircraft. The RCS, also known as Udan (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik), seeks to make flying more affordable for the masses with fares capped at Rs2,500 per hour of flight. It also aims at improving air connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
The airlines that win rights to operate RCS flights are required to offer half of their seating capacity at discounted rates in return for which they get government subsidy. The first round of bidding for RCS routes took place in March, when five carriers were awarded 128 routes. The second round of bidding began in August and the winners are likely to be announced by mid-December.
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