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The Centre has called a meeting with Air Odisha and Air Deccan representatives after the two airlines failed to meet the deadline for launching flights on the routes they bagged under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS). Five airlines were awarded 128 routes during the first round of bidding for the RCS in March. The carriers were given six months to start operations and the deadline expired on September 30.
Of 128 routes, only 15 have been operationalised so far. Air Odisha (50 routes) and Air Deccan (34 routes) had bagged the maximum number of routes under the scheme. The RCS, also known as UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) aims at making flying affordable to the masses with fares capped at Rs 2,500 km per hour of flight, and also improving air- connectivity to tier-2 and tier-3 cities. The airlines who win routes to operate RCS flights also get a subsidy from the government for keeping the fares low. "In the meeting we will be able to bind them to a timeline and get their commitment. (What) penal action has to be taken and (whether) some conditions (need) to be put will be discussed," a ministry official told reporters. The official added that various stakeholders including the Airports Authority of India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation and the airlines, will be able to discuss how many stations could not be connected due to delays on the part of airlines as well as airports not being prepared for flight operations. In the latter case, airlines will be extended some concessions. The two airlines have informed the ministry that between them they have six Beachcraft B-1900D aircraft to begin operations. The aircraft has a capacity of 19 seats. The official also said the scheduled commuter operator permit to Air Deccan is also likely to be granted in the next two weeks. The other three airlines — Alliance Air, SpiceJet and Trujet — have already started their RCS operations. However, of the total 128 routes, only 15 have been operationalised. Bidding for the second phase of RCS started in August and the winners are likely to be announced by November-end.
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