SpiceJet to lease planes for Udan flights

Over the next one-and-a-half years, SpiceJet could take on lease as many as 10 planes for the Udan regional connectivity scheme, says chairman Ajay Singh


The aviation ministry plans to subsidize some of the plane seats on Udan routes with money from a Rs500-crore corpus raised by taxing flights on trunk routes. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
The aviation ministry plans to subsidize some of the plane seats on Udan routes with money from a Rs500-crore corpus raised by taxing flights on trunk routes. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

New Delhi: SpiceJet Ltd will lease more planes to fly under the government’s Udan regional flying scheme and connect six additional stations, chairman Ajay Singh said in an interview.

“There will be some planes required for RCS (regional connectivity scheme),” Singh said, adding that over the next one-and-a-half years, the airline could take on lease as many as 10 planes, some of them for this scheme. SpiceJet operates 343 average daily flights to 45 destinations, including 39 domestic and six international ones, using 32 Boeing 737NG planes for national and international routes and 17 Bombardier Q-400s for short-haul flights.

The flights under RCS could be to six stations, starting summer. “We should be starting RCS flights by June or July,” Singh said, adding that there would be single flights to these stations “and then we will see how it goes”.

Singh said he would fully support the government’s Udan scheme. “It’s an important national programme,” he said, adding that “there will be commercial viability (as there will be exclusive rights on a route for the first three years).”

While Singh did not specify the stations to which the airline will fly, a government official who did not want to be named said the airline has sought routes mostly in north India. “They are targeting Punjab and Uttar Pradesh, stations like Kanpur, Agra among others,” the official said.

States will charge only 1% or less tax on jet fuel, besides providing security and fire services free of cost and electricity, water and other utilities at substantially concessional rates.

The government recently cleared a Rs4,500-crore plan to develop smaller airports for this purpose. The fare for a one-hour journey of about 500km on a fixed-wing aircraft will be capped at Rs2,500, with proportionate pricing for routes of different distances and duration. The aviation ministry plans to subsidize some of the plane seats on Udan routes with money from a Rs500-crore corpus raised by taxing flights on trunk routes.

SpiceJet may also start own retail stores at some airports through a new subsidiary, a person aware of the issue said on condition of anonymity.

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