The civil aviation ministry has agreed to allow some airlines to fly bigger aircraft for Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) flights adding that it may be more flexible in integrating these into routes and overall operations.
For hilly regions, UDAN will allow helicopters and four-seater aircraft to participate as well.
These changes will cater to better commercial flexibility, a government official said on the condition of anonymity.
This development has led to new bidding rounds that will start soon.
One of the rules that has been eased is — the airlines can now make UDAN destination part of a connecting flight.“This was not allowed earlier,” the official was quoted as saying.
As a part of the connectivity scheme, the airline will have to declare 70% of seats on any flight as UDAN seats irrespective of the type of aircraft. But, these airplanes will only be paid subsidy for 40 seats.
Airlines usually use small 70-seater planes for regional flights but some smaller airports are equipped to handle bigger aircraft such as Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
Aircraft pioneers, Indigo and Jet Airways, both hadn’t participated in the first round of UDAN and are expected to participate in the next round. These two had specifically raised this query with the ministry.
The earlier stipulation that two airports should be 150 km away from each other to be a part of UDAN, has now been scrapped.