NEW DELHI, Oct 11 - After a prolonged delay, M/s Deccan Charters Pvt Ltd has been identified as Selected Airline Operator for the north-eastern region.
Under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) flight operation is likely to start within six months of signing Selected Airline Operator Agreement (SAOA), sources said.
However, sources pointed out that RCS is a demand-driven mechanism. Accordingly, development of regional air connectivity routes is proposed to be left to market forces so that airlines undertake an assessment of demand and nature of supply required on particular routes and lead the process under RCS.
In the first round bidding, proposal for the network of Shillong (Barapani) - Silchar - Shillong (Barapani) - Imphal - Shillong (Barapani) - Dimapur - Shillong (Barapani) - Aizawl - Kolkata - Aizawl - Shillong (Barapani) - Agartala - Shillong (Barapani) has been received, sources informed.
Sources said Deccan Charters Pvt Ltd has now identified the need for regional air transport. For this gap to be bridged, Deccan has just launched a first-of-its-kind daily charter air service between Kolkata, Jamshedpur and Cooch Behar. Through this new initiative, Deccan will identify hitherto inaccessible tourist, industrial and other important clusters that are not serviced by airlines and provide customised charter flight services through partnerships with local stakeholders.
Sources pointed out that the a parliamentary panel has recently advised the Ministry of Civil Aviation that the north-eastern States have been neglected for a long time as far as air connectivity is concerned. A large number of small cities of the NE States have yearned for air connectivity for so many years. The committee is of the view that the Government should understand that the terrain of the States are such that road and rail connectivity is a difficult proposition in many areas.
Air connectivity is the main mode of transport for majority of the population of the North-east to other parts of the country and these States are demanding overall economic development. It was recommended that better air connectivity is the only solution to opening up the economy of NE States. Therefore, it is very essential to give a differential treatment to the NE States as far as air connectivity is concerned. The committee recommended that the NE States should get more regional air connectivity scheme, in addition to the one proposed in the National Civil Aviation Policy.
As reported, in a move to boost regional air connectivity, the new Civil Aviation Policy unveiled in June has proposed Viability Gap Funding (VGF) in the ratio of 90:10 for the NE States. The Union Cabinet has cleared the new Civil Aviation Policy with an aim to increase regional air connectivity and ease rules for airlines to fly overseas. The policy focuses on regional connectivity with an aim at providing affordable aviation services in Tier-II and Tier-III cities. It will bring down the prices of air tickets due to exemptions in service tax, customs duty, landing and parking fee and VAT.
About the concessions given to the NE States, Civil Aviation Secretary RN Choubey said that VGF is to be shared between the Ministry of Civil Aviation and the State Governments in the ratio of 90:10 in case of the NE States and 80:20 for the other States. He said that withdrawal or revision of domestic operation to North-Eastern Region can be done under prior intimation to the Ministry of Civil Aviation at least three months before withdrawal or revision of the service.