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Special Content

Issue no 32, 04-10 November 2023

RCS-UDAN: 6 Years of Skyward Progress, Connecting India, Creating Opportunities

The Regional Connectivity Scheme - UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Nagrik) is marking six remarkable years of transforming air travel and connectivity in India. Launched as a crucial element of India's National Civil Aviation Policy (NCAP) in 2016, this government initiative has been making a significant impact on the lives of people, especially in remote and underserved regions.

The journey began on April 27, 2017, with the inaugural RCS-UDAN flight, connecting Shimla to Delhi. The scheme's core focus has been on enhancing air connectivity in unserved and underserved areas across India, ensuring that even the common citizen can access the skies.

Fast forward to today, RCS-UDAN has enabled over 1.3 crore passengers to take flight, making air travel accessible to a larger segment of the population.

Over these six years, various versions of the UDAN Scheme have been rolled out, each building on the success of the previous:

UDAN 1.0: Launched with 5 airline companies, awarding 128 flight routes to 70 airports, including 36 newly operational airports.

UDAN 2.0: Expanded to include 73 underserved and unserved airports, and for the first time, helipads were also connected.

UDAN 3.0: Brought tourism routes into the picture and expanded further with seaplanes and additional routes in the North-East region.

UDAN 4.0: Gave special attention to North-Eastern Regions, Hilly States, and Islands, introducing helicopter and seaplane operations.

UDAN Version 5: Focuses on increasing connectivity with Category-2 and Category-3 aircraft. It has removed the 600 km cap and opened up possibilities for more routes.

UDAN 5.1: Caters to helicopter routes, aiming to expand operations for helicopter operators, enhance viability, and reduce airfare.

UDAN 5.2: This latest version aims to enhance connectivity to remote and regional areas, achieve last-mile connectivity, and boost the tourism sector through small aircraft (<20 seats).

Boosting Air Connectivity

From Mundra in Gujarat to Tezu in Arunachal Pradesh to Hubli in Karnataka, RCS-UDAN is connecting the length and breadth of India, ensuring that air travel is accessible across 30 States/Union Territories. So far, 75 airports have been operationalised under UDAN, with eight in the North-East region.

Fueling Growth in Aviation

The success of RCS-UDAN has led to the emergence of four new airlines in the last six years, helping operators establish and grow sustainable businesses. It has paved the way for regional airlines like FlyBig, Star Air, and IndiaOne Air to expand their operations, making air travel more accessible.

Demand for New Aircraft

The scheme's expansion has generated a demand for a variety of aircraft, including helicopters, seaplanes, propeller planes, and jet planes. The diversity in aircraft deployed, including Airbus, Boeing, ATR, DHC, Embraer, and Tecnam, is a testament to the scheme's growth.

Promoting Tourism

UDAN isn't just about connectivity; it's also a significant contributor to the tourism sector. It has connected various tourist destinations, boosting tourism, hospitality, and local economies. Places like Khajuraho, Deoghar, Amritsar, and Kishangarh have witnessed increased tourism due to improved accessibility.

Employment Generation

The RCS-UDAN scheme's success has opened doors to numerous employment opportunities in the aviation sector, making it a significant driver of economic development. The growth in the aviation industry, with the emergence of new airlines and the increased demand for aircraft of various sizes, has led to job creation. Regional airlines which have scaled up their operations due to the scheme, have been instrumental in providing employment to a diverse workforce, from pilots to ground staff, contributing to economic growth and livelihoods across the country.


The completion of six successful years of UDAN is a significant milestone for India's aviation sector. It has unlocked the potential for tourism, trade, and local economies while ensuring accessible air travel for all. It's a testament to India's commitment to a more connected, prosperous, and inclusive future.


(Compiled by EN Team)