Why in news:
As part of India’s war against COVID-19, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched “Lifeline Udan” flights for the movement of medical and essential supplies across the country and beyond.
- Under this initiative, 62 Lifeline Udan flights have been operated for five days towards March 2020 end, transporting over 15.4 tons of essential medical supplies.
- The carriers involved in Lifeline Udan operations include Air India, Alliance Air, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Pawan Hans. Support is being provided by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), AAICLAS (cargo and logistics subsidiary of AAI), AI Airports Services (AIASL), PPP airports and private ground handling entities.
- Private airline and logistics players are also providing their services for medical cargo.
- The flights are being coordinated by a control room set up at the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) under the direct supervision of the MoCA leadership.
- The Lifeline Udan cargo includes COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks, gloves and other accessories required by personnel engaged in fighting the virus across the country.
What is UDAN scheme?
UDAN is a regional connectivity scheme spearheaded by the Government of India (GoI). The full form of UDAN is ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik’ and aims to develop smaller regional airports to allow common citizens easier access to aviation services.
This scheme is a part of the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) and is funded jointly by the GoI and the state governments. The following are its salient features:
- The scheme duration is for 10 years
- Airlines participating in UDAN are selected through a competitive bidding process
- The Central government will provide the
- Subsidy to cover Value Gap funding (VGF) for participating airlines
- Concessional GST on tickets booked using the scheme
- Codesharing for flights under the policy
- State Governments will extend the following
- GST reduction to 1% for 10 years
- Coordination with oil companies to facilitate refuelling facilities
- Provide land for airport and ancillary development
- Trained security personnel
- Utilities at subsidised rates
- 20% of VGF
- Airport operators such as AAI will provide the
- No parking, landing and storage charges at participating airports
- Nil TNLC (Terminal Navigation Landing Charges)
- Allow ground handling by the airline selected through the bidding process
- RNCF (Route Navigation and Facilitation Charges) will be discounted to 42.4% of normal rates by the Airports Authority of India
Value Gap Funding is not provided to cargo airlines. All other terms and conditions remain the same as passenger airlines. The fares are graded based on distance and flight hours for both fixed-wing and rotary-wing services. The RCS subsidy is funded by a levy of Rs 5000 per flight on major routes. Flights regulated under this policy framework can be booked from the UDAN website and major travel portals by passengers.