Hardeep Singh Puri, India’s Civil Aviation Minister, has said that he wants to see 1000 new air routes in India.
Speaking after India’s annual budget, Hardeep Singh Puri made the targets of his ministry clear. As reported by Livemint, the Civil Aviation Ministry plans to upgrade and offer services to 100 regional airports and add at least 1,000 new routes. By 2025, the government hopes to see another 100 airports being modernized and ready for air services. The new routes will be a part of the government’s growing UDAN-RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme), connecting underserved towns.
Currently, 56 airports have been modernized and 700 routes have been awarded to airlines. However, as of today, only 311 of these routes are operating flights. To reach 1,000 new routes, more airlines will have to participate and new services be awarded soon.
Despite having huge opportunities in the regional market, only 3 carriers operate regional aircraft: Indigo, SpiceJet and Alliance Air (an Air India subsidiary). Without a substantial fleet expansion or new entrants, operating so many routes might be impossible for the existing airlines. Larger aircrafts like the Boeing B737 or Airbus A320 do not make sense on several routes due to low demand.
SpiceJet has been at the forefront to start new routes under the government’s Regional Connectivity Scheme. Cities like Jharsuguda, Darbhanga, and Pakyong, have all seen greatly expanded connectivity with SpiceJet.
Indigo has also grabbed the chance to grow its regional network, adding 7 new bases in the 1st half of 2021. Similarly, Alliance Air will start flights from Bilaspur, Chattisgarh from 1st March, 2021, flying to Delhi.
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