Expect first RCS flight by January 2017: Minister

New Delhi, Oct 21 (IANS) The government on Friday said that it expects the first flight under its Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) to be operated by January 2017.

The operations under the scheme are intended to provide air connectivity to un-served and remote routes with airfare being capped at Rs 2,500 for an hour’s journey of around 500 km.

The scheme christened as UDAN — “Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik”, will be in operation for a period of 10 years.

“We will target the first flights under UDAN to take off by January 2017,” Civil Aviation Minister P. Ashok Gajapathi Raju said at the launch event of UDAN scheme here.

According to the minister, the scheme is a key component of the recently approved National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP), whose main objective is to “enhance regional connectivity through fiscal support and infrastructure development”.

“Cabinet had taken a decision on civil aviation policy four months back; regional connectivity scheme was a major component of it,” the minister said adding that: “We are cautiously optimistic about UDAN.”

The policy intends to grow regional connectivity via several measures such as incentives, capping of air fares for a limited number of seats and revival of existing air strips and airports.

The scheme is expected to support airlines by providing direct financial support namely viability gap funding (VGF), which would be given to the interested airlines to kick off operations to an un-served or under-served airport.