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New Delhi: The Ministry of Civil Aviation took a major step on Friday towards making flying a reality for the small town common man. Civil Aviation minister P Ashok Gajapathi Raju launched the ministry’s much awaited Regional Connectivity Scheme `UDAN’ in New Delhi on Friday.

UDAN is an innovative scheme to develop the regional aviation market. It is a market-based mechanism in which airlines bid for seat subsidies. This first-of-its-kind scheme globally will create affordable yet economically viable and profitable flights on regional routes so that flying becomes affordable to the common man even in small towns, according to a PIB release.

Speaking on the occasion, Raju expressed hope that the first flight under the scheme would be able to take off by January next year. He said the scheme had been prepared after a lot of stakeholder consultation and called for support from all players to make it a success.

Minister of state for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha said that the objective of the scheme was “Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik”.  He said this scheme ensures affordability, connectivity, growth and development. It would provide a win-win situation for all stakeholders – citizens would get the benefit of affordability, connectivity and more jobs while the Centre would be able to expand the regional air connectivity and market. The state governments would reap the benefit of development of remote areas, enhance trade and commerce and more tourism expansion. For incumbent airlines there was the promise of new routes and more passengers while for the and start-up airlines there is the opportunity of new, scalable business.

The scheme UDAN envisages providing connectivity to un-served and under-served airports of the country through revival of existing airstrips and airports. The scheme would be in operation for a period of 10 years.  UDAN has a unique market-based model to develop regional connectivity.

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