An Air Deccan Airbus plane in Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi | Sondeep Shankar /Bloomberg News
File photo Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi | Bloomberg
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Junior civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha told Rajya Sabha that 6 routes awarded under UDAN had been cancelled due to ‘non-performance’ or ‘poor performance’.

New Delhi: The NDA government’s flagship civil aviation scheme, Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN), has run into some turbulence in the eastern part of the country, as regional airline companies such as Air Deccan and Air Odisha have failed to commence operations under this umbrella.

Staff shortage, technical issues with aircraft and high maintenance cost amid severe cost pressures have led to the grounding of two new routes opened under UDAN — from Jamshedpur (operated by Air Deccan) and Jharsuguda (operated by Air Odisha).

Air Deccan, India’s first low-cost carrier, revived in 2017 by its founder Captain G.R. Gopinath, was slated to commence operations between Kolkata and Jamshedpur by 30 September.

Air Odisha, meanwhile, was awarded the rights to operate flights between Jharsuguda and Bhubaneswar. It was also slated to connect Jharsuguda with Ranchi and Raipur. The Jharsuguda airport was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September.

Also read: Narendra Modi’s pet UDAN scheme crawls in Maharashtra — the first state to sign up for it


Jayant Sinha, the Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, acknowledged these issues in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha. He stated that six routes awarded to Air Deccan and Air Odisha in the first round of UDAN auctions had been cancelled due to “non-performance” or “poor performance”.

In the last six months, more than 70 per cent of the flights have been cancelled by the two carriers. The Airports Authority of India (AAI), in fact, cancelled the operating licences of Air Deccan and Air Odisha for various routes due to their failure in operating regular flights on their assigned routes.

“While the bigger airlines which ply on multiple routes can take the hit due to overall volume, the smaller regional airlines face severe problems. Viability becomes an issue, and they get grounded,” an industry analyst told ThePrint on the condition of anonymity.

“This even forces the customers to look for options which were existent before flight connectivity under UDAN,” the analyst said.

UDAN scheme

The government introduced the Regional Connectivity Scheme under the UDAN name on 21 October 2016 to boost regional connectivity while making air travel affordable. Under the scheme, airlines are encouraged to fly to underserved airports at low fares, the maximum being Rs 2,500 per hour of flying. The carriers also receive subsidy from the government.

The government had recently decided to extend the UDAN scheme to international air travel as well.

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3 Comments Share Your Views


  1. “Non-performance” and “poor performance” are hallmark of our govts. They boast first and then give up. This is really ridiculous.

  2. I was working as pilot in Air Odisha 6 months in 2018. During this time, They paid me only the equivalent of 2 months of salary. Air Odisha dont have money and dont pay ground staff salary. The DGCA should be more exigent with this company when contract foreing pilots. I moved to India with my best intention to help to prepare next generations of Indians Captains, but madly I came back to my country with this very bad experience.

  3. Unclear why any airline should “ take a hit “. They should fly where the paying passengers are. No zabardasti, nor any complex maze of cross subsidies. I have a theory : When there is a superfluous ministry, its folk will create unnecessary work, utopian schemes, simply to justify their existence and budgets. Twelve to fifteen Cabinet ministers, a slightly larger number of ministers of state and India would have a first rate government, delivering on the promise of MGMG.


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