UDAN for steel city

The steel city will once again come up on India's air map with a direct flight link to Calcutta from February-end or March this year, under the Centre's UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Yojana, Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said today.

By Our Correspondent in Jamshedpur
  • Published 21.01.17
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Union minister Jayant Sinha in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Bhola Prasad

Jamshedpur, Jan. 20: The steel city will once again come up on India's air map with a direct flight link to Calcutta from February-end or March this year, under the Centre's UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) Yojana, Union minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha said today.

Jayant, who was in Jamshedpur to attend interactive sessions with industrialists under the banner of Laghu Udyog Bharat and B-school students at XLRI, told media persons that Jamshedpur, despite being an unserved airport, had received three bids in the first round under the regional connectivity scheme also known as UDAN.

In aviation parlance, an unserved airport is one where there have been no scheduled commercial flights during the last two flight schedules approved by the directorate-general of civil aviation (DGCA) and an underserved airport is one where there are no more than seven scheduled commercial flight departures a week.

Under UDAN, the Centre will subsidise losses incurred by private airlines flying out of dormant (unserved and underserved) airports so that fares can be capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour's flight. About 80 per cent of the subsidy will be collected by charging a levy of up to Rs 8,500 on each departing flight of domestic airlines and the rest 20 per cent will come from respective state governments.

For Jamshedpur, three private companies operating scheduled flights for first time under UDAN scheme have shown interest in starting flight services from Sonari Airport in the initial bidding round that ended on January 16.

"All three have bid in the initial round," Jayant said. "One showed interest for a direct flight between Jamshedpur and Calcutta while two others showed interest linking Jamshedpur with Calcutta through other cities."

"If there are no reverse bids we can hope to see first flights starting from Jamshedpur in February-end itself," said the Union minister.

However, he refused to take their names as it would jeopardise the reverse (counter) bid process that is underway till February 1.

Jayant added that earlier this month, he had a talk with Tata Steel officials who agreed to allow Sonari Airport for flight operations under UDAN. "I had a talk with Tata Steel vice-president (corporate services) Sunil Bhaskaran earlier this month and the company has agreed to give Sonari Airport for starting flights under the regional connectivity scheme which was a long-felt demand of residents here," the minister said.

Talks were also held with chief minister Raghubar Das, who MLA from Jamshedpur East for a modern airport in the steel city, he added.

The state government had signed an MoU with Union civil aviation ministry under regional connectivity scheme UDAN in August 2016. "The chief minister assured us about his government's keenness on this front and they have started scouting for land (over 500 acres) for a modern airport in Jamshedpur. The state government has to select the land, be it the abandoned airstrip at Chakulia (in Ghatshila subdivision) or somewhere else. We are there to offer support. However, everything will be based on demand and commercial viability," Jayant said.

Talks were on with the state government to develop an airport in Bokaro and renovate airstrips at Deoghar and Hazaribagh so that flights from Jamshedpur could be linked to these towns too, he said.

Across the country, 43 airports, apart from existing 75 operational airports, will get regular flights under the regional connectivity scheme after the initial round of bidding. Eleven bidders have taken part in the process for 43 airports across the country for 199 routes.

Later, Sinha addressed BJP members during the district working committee meeting at Birsa Munda Town Hall in Sidhgora.