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PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate first UDAN flight on Thursday

LiveMint logoLiveMint 25-04-2017 Tarun Shukla

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the first flight from Shimla on Thursday under government’s subsidy-led UDAN flying scheme with fares starting at about Rs2,000.

Udan is short for Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik, which loosely translates as “let the common man fly”. The scheme is intended to connect small towns by air.

Air India on Tuesday said it has opened bookings for the first launch flight from Shimla to Delhi with all inclusive fares starting at Rs2,036.

The airline cannot fly at full capacity on its 70-seater ATR airplane because of payload restrictions related to the short Shimla airfield.

This means while half the seats will be sold cheap on first come first serve basis the rest of the seat will be very steep.

Air India website showed tickets for the rest of the seats starting from Rs13,000 to Rs19,000 one way.

This means if you buy a ticket late it could cost you anywhere up to Rs26,000 to Rs38,000 for a return economy airfare. There are no business class seats on this plane.

Modi is likely to throw open the first flight by handing over the boarding card to the travelling passengers before noon on Thursday at Shimla airport.

Some senior officials aviation ministry, Air India and Airports Authority of India have already left for Shimla for the preparatory meetings while others are flying on Wednesday ahead of Modi’s event.

The regional aviation scheme which will be in operation for 10 years, envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served cities and towns by reviving existing airstrips and airports.

This would be achieved by providing financial stimulus in the form of central and state government concessions, as well as viability gap funding for interested airlines to kick off operations while ensuring passenger fares are kept affordable.

The fare for a one-hour journey of about 500km on a fixed wing aircraft or a 30-minute journey on a helicopter will be capped at Rs2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different lengths and duration.

To reduce cost of operations, the Centre will provide concessions in the form of reduced excise on value-added tax (VAT), service tax and flexibility in code sharing at airports under the regional connectivity scheme.

State governments would have to lower the VAT on jet fuel to 1% or less, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.

Landing and parking charges and terminal navigation landing charges will not be imposed by the airport operator.

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