UDAN project takes wing, Mysuru mapped on flight routes

UDAN project takes wing, Mysuru mapped on flight routes

One-hour flight at Rs 2,500 set to boost tourism, connectivity

Stakeholders of various sectors and trades that are either directly or indirectly related to both tourism and industry are happy lot with news of Mysuru making the cut under UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik) project.

The scheme, proposed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, intends to fly the common man. Under UDAN, passengers are likely to fly from Mysuru to Chennai by September on either Trujet or Air Odisha flights. MP Pratap Simha spoke to DH over phone from New Delhi and elaborated that the agreement between the service provider and the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation may be signed by April 15.

Simha said that once he completes campaigning for Nanjangud and Gundlupet Assembly constituency bypolls, he would meet Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha on April 10 to discuss about the possible routes that would benefit prospective fliers to and from Mysuru. “Many stakeholders are advocating a Kochi-Mysuru-Bengaluru route. They say at least 200 cars come to Mysuru from Kochi everyday. However, further consultations will be held with the stakeholders,” he said.

Affordable airfares
Under UDAN scheme, the Union government estimates that about Rs 205 crore would be spent per year as viability gap funding (VGF) for operators chosen in the first round of bidding. The airlines which have won the bidding are Air India subsidiary Alliance Air, SpiceJet, TruJet, Air Deccan and Air Odisha. They would operate 128 routes in which the airfare is capped at Rs 2,500 for a one-hour flight duration with up to 40 seats in each flight. These airlines will operate 19 to 78-seater aircraft and the deadline to get the routes operational is September.
Fliers on major routes would pay about Rs 50 extra per ticket to help generate the VGF amount of Rs 205 crore for the UDAN flights.

Long-pending demand
Demands for air connectivity for Mysuru had been long-pending. Various interest groups including Mysuru Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mysuru Travel Agents Association, Confederation of Indian Industries, among others, had been demanding air services for the sector. The issue would only gain momentum during Dasara.
Authorities finally introduced air services during Dasara in 2010 but the airline operator withdrew the flights citing poor occupancy. Kingfisher operated flights from October 1, 2010 to November 7, 2011; SpiceJet operated from January 14 to October 25 in 2013 and Alliance Air operated from September 3 to November 17 in 2015. The services were operated despite reluctance following pressure from various interest groups and government intervention with renewed deadlines. Again, in 2016, air connectivity was provided ahead of the Dasara festival. The Department of Tourism operated ‘Akasha Ambari’, a special flight from Bengaluru’s HAL airport from October 1 to 15. A Beechcraft B-300, twin-engine, nine-seater aircraft was used with a one-way fare of Rs 4,000 (all inclusive).

Former chairman of CII-Mysuru N Muthukumar said the authorities should plan the flight timings to suit passengers. He said, “If it is a hopping flight like Mysuru-Kochi-Mysuru, it should be scheduled in the afternoon. If it is a connecting flight, like Kochi-Mysuru-Bengaluru, it should be in the morning and evening.”

H Shivalingaiah, secretary of Mysuru Travel Agents Association, said that if Mysuru gets air connectivity, it will be a big boost to tourism in the heritage city. “Besides the major tourist attractions in Mysuru, there are a lot of places in a radius of 50 km around the city. However, the Tourism department should chalk out plans to attract more and more tourists especially foreign tourists to Mysuru,” he said.

C Narayanagowda, president of Mysuru Hotel Owners Association, said that, “Considering the proximity, unless it is a connecting flight, air connectivity to Bengaluru from Mysuru is not feasible. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi was campaigninging for MP Prathap Simha on April 8 2014, he had assured to take Mysuru on the international tourist circuit. After four budgets, Mysuru has not found a mention in it. Hope something materialises at least this year,” he said.