How the COVID-19 pandemic will affect rules under National Civil Aviation Policy

The government formulated the National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) in 2016. While the policy document looked at many aspects of aviation in India, including laying the foundation for Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) – UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik), the contentious Route Dispersal Guidelines (RDG) were revamped too.

India remains one of the few countries worldwide where such rules remain in place! Ironically, the RDG mandate airlines to fly to certain routes in the country which are classified as remote while the RCS-UDAN scheme encourages airlines to fly on similar underserved and unserved routes!

The RDG came into effect in 1994 to help increase connectivity to Jammu and Kashmir, North East and a few other such regions. Indian aviation has changed leaps and bounds since then! From just a handful of “air taxi” operators to having airlines which are the talking point of the world and loved by the aircraft manufacturers! The scheme was finally updated in 2016 as part of the NCAP.

Policy in a nutshell

Airline routes in India are classified as Category 1, Category 2, Category 2A and Category 3. The routes which are longer than 700 km with an average seat factor of more than 70 percent with an annual traffic of 5 lakh passengers are categorised as Category 1.

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