Days after the Indian government launched the much talked about Regional Connectivity Scheme which aims to get more people to fly in smaller towns, Minister for Civil Aviation Ashok Gajapathi Raju says he will prove the doomsayers wrong and will convert the wish list project into a work list one.
The minister called the Udaan scheme as the real game changer in the aviation sector and added that the infrastructure for the scheme to take off already exists.
He also dismissed views that there will be extra burden on the fliers and operators.
Here are a few edited excerpts from the interview:
Is Udaan scheme the real game changer in the aviation sector?
Aviation has a multiplier effect on the economy. It takes about two years to develop a route. Udaan is an exercise that is being translated from the wish list to the work list. Udaan will positively impact the local economy.
Will there be an extra burden on the fliers and the airline operator?
We will take states and airlines on-board.
Many feel that Udaan is a case of misplaced priorities as 25 per cent of the population is still not connected to electrical grids?
The middle income group does not fly. The scheme will be revisited after 10 years. The aviation sector is growing fastest in the world. Aviation sector creates jobs, growth
The scheme has not taken off but many are already saying negative things?
Will prove the doomsayers wrong
In the past, regional airlines like Air Pegasus have been de-registered by the DGCA due to financial troubles. Will Udaan bring new life to airlines like these?
The issue of leasing needs to be addressed. We need to sit and work around these issues and involve all stakeholders so that it ultimately benefits all.
Airline operators, for example, have not found flying viable on routes like Bhatinda to Chandigarh, Mumbai to Jamnagar or Delhi to Ambala. Will these routes be revived?
India has around 400 airstrips, so hopefully we will try and use up all the unserved and underserved airports.
So the ‘aam admi’ who wears a ‘hawai chappal’ will now be able to board the ‘hawai jahaz?’
The aam admi is welcome to fly. Why should he be denied this facility? I am sure the Udaan scheme will reach newer heights and we will become the world’s third biggest market for aviation by 2020.
(You can watch the entire interview at 10 pm tonight and 10.30 am, 1pm and 5.30 pm on Thursday, only on Rajya Sabha TV)