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Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio convened a meeting with officials from Pawan Hans Ltd. today to discuss the impending launch of Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) routes for Nagaland under UDAN 5.1. The meeting aimed to enhance connectivity across the state by initiating 14 new routes. These routes will connect key districts including Dimapur, Mokokchung, Kohima, Zunheboto, Phek, and Tuensang, as well as Jorhat Airport in Phase-I of the scheme. The move is expected to bolster accessibility and promote economic development in the region.

Under the UDAN Scheme, an ‘RCS Route’ denotes a non-stop air service connection between identified pairs of origin and destination airports, water aerodromes, or helipads within India. These routes must meet specific criteria, including the involvement of at least one RCS Concession Airport, which falls under the definition of an Underserved or Unserved Airport, as outlined in Scheme Version 5.1.

As of December 2023, Minister of State in the Ministry of Civil Aviation (Gen. (Dr) VK Singh (Retd)) disclosed in the Lok Sabha that 76 airports are operational under the UDAN Scheme nationwide. Dimapur Airport in Nagaland was included in the Underserved category (Round-3), administered by the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and operational from 7 December 2019.

‘Underserved Airport’ means any airport which is not an Unserved Airport and at which, there are no more than fourteen (14) scheduled commercial actual flight departures per week as per the last flight schedule (Winter Schedule 2022) published by the DGCA on its website. ‘Unserved Airport’ shall mean any airport at which there have been no scheduled commercial flights during the last two (2) flight schedules (Summer & Winter Schedule 2022) published by the DGCA on its website.

Replying to whether the central government has any proposals to review UDAN Scheme in near future, the MoS replied that the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – UDAN is an ongoing scheme which has evolved over a period of time keeping in view the inputs received from the stakeholders, needs of the various regions etc. Bidding rounds are conducted from time to time for covering more destinations and routes under the scheme. Routes have been awarded to Selected Airlines Operators (SAOs) for operation under 5 rounds of biddings so far. UDAN 5.1 and 5.2 have been launched to enhance connectivity to remote and regional areas of the country through helicopters and small aircraft respectively.

Pawan Hans Ltd. (PHL) stands as a helicopter service provider to the Government of India, evolving into South Asia’s largest helicopter company, maintaining and operating a fleet of 43 helicopters. Renowned for its reliability and versatility, PHL offers a diverse array of services, cementing its position as a trusted brand in the realm of helicopter services. As a pioneering endeavor, PHL has been granted an Air Operators Permit for scheduled operations. Scheduled flights under RCS UDAN II have commenced in the state of Himachal Pradesh, with plans underway to expand services to the states of Uttarakhand, Assam, and Manipur in the near future, as outlined on their website.

Mokokchung Times

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