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New Delhi : The first direct flight operations between Nashik (Maharashtra) and Belgaum (Karnataka) started on January 25, 2021,  under the RCS-UDAN (Regional Connectivity Scheme — Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) of the Government of India.

Operationalising of this route expands the aerial connectivity of Belgaum to the 10 destinations across India.  The Belgaum airport has emerged as the third busiest airport in terms of traffic in the state after Bengaluru and Mangaluru. Officials of the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Airport Authority of India (AAI) were present at the launch of the flight operations. Till date, 311 routes have been operationalised under the UDAN scheme, according to a PIB release.

Several requests were received to start Belgaum-Nashik route considering the non-availability of any direct flight/train operations between these cities, till date. People were forced to travel by road and suffer a long journey of more than 10 hours. Nasik is a big tourist and business destination. Being one of the four pilgrimage sites that organises Kumbh Mela, and the gateway city for the Shirdi Sai Temple and  Trimbakeshwar Temple, the city attracts lakhs of tourists every year. Additionally, due to the presence of majority of India’s vineyards and wineries in the city, Nashik is also known as the Grape and Wine capital of India and attracts business community. Further, many people use this route to visit Kolhapur and  Goa for tourism and business purposes. Now, these people can travel at ease by opting for a flight of just 60 minutes.

Star Air was awarded the Belgaum-Nashik route during the UDAN 3 bidding process. The airlines are being provided Viability Gap Funding (VGF) under the UDAN scheme to keep the fares affordable and accessible for the common people. The airline will be operating thrice-weekly flights on the route and will deploy its 50-seater Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft. The route marks the commencement of the 15th UDAN route by the airline.