The first flight under the government’s UDAN scheme from Shimla to Delhi was flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi this morning. With this, the NDA government took its first step towards achieving its aim of enabling anyone wearing a hawai chappal to be able to board a hawai jahaj as fares are capped at Rs 2,500 per hour of flying on these select routes.
Simultaneously, PM Modi will also flag off the inaugural UDAN flights on Kadapa – Hyderabad and Nanded-Hyderabad sectors.
The UDAN scheme is important from the air connectivity point of view – its stated aim is to get the aam aadmi to fly and in doing this, to get unserved and underserved airports to become better utilized.
The Shimla flight will be operated five days a week by Air India subsidiary Allaince Air. It will offer 35 seats on the Delhi-Shimla leg and only 15 on the return journey due to restrictions at Shimla airport though the aircraft is a 48-seater ATR, an Air India spokesperson told Firstpost.
Of the 25 seats on the Delhi-Shimla leg, 24 will be priced at a flat Rs 2,036. Which means, if you buy the ticket early enough, flying to and from Shimla will cut the travel time significantly besides costing you a little more than a train journey.
It anyway cuts the travel time and the hassle of alighting at Kalka station and then looking for an alternate mode of transport to Shimla. Remember, train facility is only till Kalka from Delhi and from there one has to either book a seat on the toy train or go by road.
The Delhi-Shimla flight also marks the restarting of operations at the Shimla airport, which has been an unserved airport since 2012 when operating airlines withdrew, citing non-viability.
Under the new UDAN scheme, the state government and the centre are committed to providing subsidy as per a pre-decided formula which will perhaps help Air India not book interminable losses on this sector.