STATE TIMES NEWSNew Delhi: As many as 11 airports in Jammu and Kashmir, and two in Ladakh have been put up for bidding under the fourth round of the Regional Air Connectivity (RAC) scheme, according to a release. So far, 688 routes have been awarded to various air operators under the Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik (UDAN) that seeks to connect unserved as well as underserved destinations and also make flying more affordable. The civil aviation ministry announced the fourth round of UDAN bidding on Tuesday and the focus is on North East Region, hilly states, J&K and Ladakh. Under UDAN 4.0, the ministry has put on offer bids for 11 unserved airports in J&K and 2 underserved airports in Ladakh region, as per the official release issued on Thursday. The 11 airports in J&K are Akhnoor, Chamb, Chushal, Fukche, Gurez, Jhangar, Miran Sahib, Panzgam, Poonch, Rajouri and Udhampur. The two aerodromes in Ladakh are at Kargil and Thoise. “The objective is to establish strong air connectivity and to boost the tourism sector,” the release said. J&K and Ladakh are now union territories. For UDAN 4.0, initial proposals can be submitted till January 1, 2020, and counter proposals till January 13. The declaration of selected airline operator and issue of letter of award (LoA) would be done on January 31, 2020. Among other incentives, the ministry would be extending additional viability gap funding of around 25 per cent to the participating airlines under UDAN 4.0. The provision of Viability Gap Funding (VGF) cap for Category 2 / 3 aircraft (more than 20 seater) has been enhanced for operation of RCS flights in Priority Area(s) (Union Territories [UT] of Ladakh and Jammu & Kashmir; the States of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, North Eastern State; UT of Lakshadweep and Andaman & Nicobar). The VGF cap applicable for various stage lengths for operation through category 1 / 1 A aircraft (below 20 seater) has also been revised to further incentivize the operation of small aircraft under the Scheme. VGF will be provided for RCS Flights for a period of three years from the date of commencement of RCS Flight operations on any RCS Route under a Selected Airline Operator. As per concessions being provided, elected Airline Operators shall be allowed to undertake ground handling for their RCS Flights at all airports / Water Aerodromes / Helipads. AAI shall not levy any Terminal Navigation Landing Charges (TNLC) on RCS Flights. Route Navigation and Facilitation Charges (RNFC) will be levied by AAI on a discounted basis at the rate of 42.50 per cent of Normal Rates on RCS Flights. Normal Rates refer to applicable rates specified by the AAI on its website from time to time without any discounts or concessions.
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