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Want Rs 2,500 tickets under UDAN? Please book in advance on popular routes

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Shimla-Delhi flights are sold out but others are available much below the capped limit of Rs 2,000

Five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik”, or UDAN, scheme from Shimla airport, Tushar Patel tried to book tickets from Delhi to the hill station. To his surprise, he couldn’t find the subsidised Rs 2,500 fare. Instead, the cheapest fare in May was Rs 8,049 and on some days, it was as high as Rs 15,090.


Travellers lapped up the cheaper tickets soon after the scheme was launched. “On Delhi-Shimla route, all tickets reserved under scheme are sold out until June end. What’s available now are few seats that have market-linked rates,” says CS Subbiah, chief executive officer of Alliance Air, an subsidiary.


This is quite a contrast to the other three routes that are operational at present. If you were to take a round trip between Mumbai and Nanded, the fares are Rs 4,000 – below the cap of Rs 2,500 one way. But if you are flying between Hyderabad and Kadapa or Nanded and Hyderabad, you can get a return ticket even for around Rs 2,000.


Shimla stands out among all other operational routes because of the holiday season. “The city is one of the most popular holiday destinations in India, hitherto inaccessible to many tourists due to lack of convenient air connectivity. It is also a state capital. There is a huge unmet demand,” says Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG.


The number of seats available on the route are much lower, too, because the airport is at a high altitude. “From Delhi to Shimla, the 42-seater aircraft can only carry 35 passengers. Out of these, 24 are reserved for But from Shimla to Delhi, the aircraft can carry only 15 passengers and all these seats are sold at Rs 2,500 or lower. While an individual can still pay a higher fare to go from Delhi to Shimla, there are no seats available for the return trip until July,” explains Subbiah


Experts say that the rates on the other routes are low because there’s little demand at present. When Alliance Air started flying Bhatinda-Delhi, it took 50 days for travellers to know about the service. Once the route becomes popular, the fare could increase.


The government has started the scheme to provide affordable regional air travel. The government is giving sops to airlines to keep 50 per cent of seats on the selected routes reserved for the scheme. The maximum airfare has been capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour journey of approximately 500 kilometres on an aircraft or a 30-minute journey on a helicopter.


The cap on rates makes air travel more affordable. Until now, the starting price for a ticket on the Bhatinda-Delhi route was Rs 3,000. With the route now part of UDAN, the fares have come down by at least 17 per cent. “The scheme will also make the interiors of the country more accessible. Road and rail travel take 5-8 times longer than flying, especially for distances over 300 km,” says Dubey. Further, he adds that rich middle-aged tourists shun places that do not have convenient flight connections. That’s why nature and religious tourism in India remain largely untapped, despite the huge potential.

Want Rs 2,500 tickets under UDAN? Please book in advance on popular routes

Shimla-Delhi flights are sold out but others are available much below the capped limit of Rs 2,000

Shimla-Delhi flights are sold out but others are available much below the capped limit of Rs 2,000

Five days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched the “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik”, or UDAN, scheme from Shimla airport, Tushar Patel tried to book tickets from Delhi to the hill station. To his surprise, he couldn’t find the subsidised Rs 2,500 fare. Instead, the cheapest fare in May was Rs 8,049 and on some days, it was as high as Rs 15,090.


Travellers lapped up the cheaper tickets soon after the scheme was launched. “On Delhi-Shimla route, all tickets reserved under scheme are sold out until June end. What’s available now are few seats that have market-linked rates,” says CS Subbiah, chief executive officer of Alliance Air, an subsidiary.


This is quite a contrast to the other three routes that are operational at present. If you were to take a round trip between Mumbai and Nanded, the fares are Rs 4,000 – below the cap of Rs 2,500 one way. But if you are flying between Hyderabad and Kadapa or Nanded and Hyderabad, you can get a return ticket even for around Rs 2,000.


Shimla stands out among all other operational routes because of the holiday season. “The city is one of the most popular holiday destinations in India, hitherto inaccessible to many tourists due to lack of convenient air connectivity. It is also a state capital. There is a huge unmet demand,” says Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence at global consultancy KPMG.


The number of seats available on the route are much lower, too, because the airport is at a high altitude. “From Delhi to Shimla, the 42-seater aircraft can only carry 35 passengers. Out of these, 24 are reserved for But from Shimla to Delhi, the aircraft can carry only 15 passengers and all these seats are sold at Rs 2,500 or lower. While an individual can still pay a higher fare to go from Delhi to Shimla, there are no seats available for the return trip until July,” explains Subbiah


Experts say that the rates on the other routes are low because there’s little demand at present. When Alliance Air started flying Bhatinda-Delhi, it took 50 days for travellers to know about the service. Once the route becomes popular, the fare could increase.


The government has started the scheme to provide affordable regional air travel. The government is giving sops to airlines to keep 50 per cent of seats on the selected routes reserved for the scheme. The maximum airfare has been capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour journey of approximately 500 kilometres on an aircraft or a 30-minute journey on a helicopter.


The cap on rates makes air travel more affordable. Until now, the starting price for a ticket on the Bhatinda-Delhi route was Rs 3,000. With the route now part of UDAN, the fares have come down by at least 17 per cent. “The scheme will also make the interiors of the country more accessible. Road and rail travel take 5-8 times longer than flying, especially for distances over 300 km,” says Dubey. Further, he adds that rich middle-aged tourists shun places that do not have convenient flight connections. That’s why nature and religious tourism in India remain largely untapped, despite the huge potential.

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Tinesh Bhasin

Business Standard

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