To further enhance air regional connectivity, the Centre on Tuesday invited bids for the fourth round of the RCS-Udan scheme.
According to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, the focus of this round would be the priority areas like the northeastern and hill states, the Union Territories of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir and islands.
The scheme provides various concessions to the selected airline operators to operate routes under RCS-Udan from Centre and state governments. Accordingly, the fourth round of the scheme features revision of viability gap funding (VGF) cap.
"The provision of VGF for category 2 or 3 aircraft (more than 20 seater) has been enhanced for operation of RCS flights in priority area(s)," the ministry said in a statement.
"The VGF cap applicable for various stage lengths for operation through category 1 or 1A aircraft (below 20 seater) has also been revised to further incentivise the operation of small aircraft under the scheme."
Besides, the new round will promote short-haul routes up to 500 kms.
"Airports that has already been developed by AAI would be given higher priority for award of VGF under the scheme, followed by airports not part of the above list but located priority area(s) would be given a priority, followed by airports located in areas other than priority area(s)," the statement said.
Further, the scheme has a provision to provide flexibility to change the frequency of flight operation.
"The selected airline operator (SAO) would be allowed to change the frequency of flight operation, during the tenure of flight operation of the given route, provided that the total scheduled flight operation submitted as part of the technical proposal, is conformed and adhered to within a period of one year," the statement said.
In January 2019, the Centre had awarded contracts to 11 companies to operate fixed-wing and seaplane services under the third round of air regional connectivity scheme connecting destinations like Ambala, Amravati, Campbell Bay and Car Nicobar among others.
That time, the ministry had issued "Letter of Awards" for 73 proposals involving 235 regional connectivity and water aerodrome routes which were received under the third round of RCS-Udan.