Routes to be bid out on reverse auction basis under RCS; 22 airports to be connected

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) plans to bid out regional routes on a reverse auction basis to airlines under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) by mid-October 2016, once the final RCS policy is announced. The first flight under the RCS is expected to be launched in January 2017. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) plans to connect 22 airports under Phase I of the RCS. This includes one airport in the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, three in Assam, and two each in Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Rajasthan, all of which are ready to start regional operations. As a part of the RCS, AAI plans to invest Rs 175 billion in upgrading airport infrastructure by 2019-20. To be generated through internal accruals, a part of this investment will also go towards upgrading 30 smaller airports for regional flights.