Mumbai: State-run helicopter operator Pawan Hans Ltd will begin services under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS 2) from July, connecting destinations in northeast India, chairman and managing director B.P. Sharma said.

Pawan Hans was awarded 11 proposals under RCS 2 in January.

Proposal here refers to one or more routes that connect two destinations.

The Noida-based company, which has 43 helicopters in its fleet, is also looking to lease more helicopters to expand operations.

“The plan is to add more than 50 new towns and cities to our map in the near future," Sharma said, adding that the company is also looking to add seaplanes to its fleet.

“We are actively considering adding seaplanes to our fleet and are currently in talks with lessors," Sharma said.

He added that seaplanes could be incorporated in the company’s fleet as early as the next fiscal (2018-19).

The government had in January awarded 325 routes to airlines and helicopters (for the first time) under the second phase of the regional connectivity scheme (RCS 2), which connects smaller towns, cities and poorly connected areas with air links.

During the second round of the auction of routes under the regional connectivity scheme, 15 operators won bids to connect 78 airports and 31 heliports.

Winning helicopter operators include Pawan Hans, Heligo Charters Pvt. Ltd, Heritage Aviation and Sky One Airways.

Pawan Hans, which is jointly owned by the central government (51%) and Oil and Natural Gas Corp. (49%), currently services ONGC’s offshore operations, apart from providing services to various state governments in the North-East.

The company also operates ferry services in Andaman and Nicobar islands, Lakshadweep, Kerala and to the Vaishnodevi temple.

Pawan Hans, which counts state-run companies and the government as its clients, is also actively looking to win business from the private sector, Sharma said.

“Helicopter services don’t need expensive airports or infrastructure and can be used to connect short-haul destinations with ease," Sharma said, adding that the induction of helicopter services in RCS 2 will aid the growth of Pawan Hans.