The second wave of Covid-19 has not only led to operational losses for airlines and airports but also has impacted future developments in the aviation sector. According to ratings agency ICRA, the target of operationalising 100 airports under Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik (UDAN) will see a delay of two years from 2024 to 2026 due to the impact of the pandemic.
The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) had launched the UDAN scheme in 2016 as a regional connectivity scheme (RCS) to enhance regional connectivity. However, as per ICRA, only 47% of the total routes and 39% of airports (unserved and underserved) have been operationalised under UDAN as on May 31.
The number of new RCS routes which started operations increased at a healthy pace and stood at 102 in financial year (FY) 2019-20 and 120 routes in FY2020-21. They have, however, declined on 77 new routes in FY2021-22 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
ICRA said that during FY2018-19 to FY2021-22, ₹3,350 crore has been incurred by the Central government towards the UDAN scheme, while the budgeted outlay for FY21-2022 is only ₹1,130 crore.