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Indian carriers to launch over 100 routes in second round of RCS

India's civil aviation ministry has awarded 115 routes to be operated by fixed wing aircraft in the second round of bidding under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS).

In doing so, a total of 78 airports will be connected, says the ministry. These include 36 served airports; 13 under-served airports and 29 un-served airports.

The ministry will provide Rs4.87 billion ($73 million) worth of Viability Gap Funding. It had received 108 proposals to cover over 500 routes.

The second round of RCS is expected to offer 2.65 million seats per year that will be subsidised with an airfare cap of Rs2,500 for approximately one hour of flying.

In a separate presentation, it was announced that among the applicants and proposals awarded, IndiGo has been offered 29 routes; SpiceJet with 17; Zoom Air with six; Jet Airways with four and TruJet with 10.

In addition, the civil aviation ministry has identified several "priority areas" to expand connectivity, of which most are located in the Northern regions of India. These include the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as well as Lakshadweep Islands will also be connected.

The second round of the RCS will also see the programme extended to helicopter operations, whereby 23 routes will connect to 31 helipads.

The ministry adds the among the key impacts of the first two rounds of the RCS included the enhanced availability and affordability of regional air connectivity; the revival and upgrade of around 56 unserved airports; as well as the provision of a major fillip to tourism and employment generation in the hinterland and Tier-II and Tier-III cities.

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