New Delhi, February 1, 2018

The expansion of the regional air connectivity scheme (RCS) as proposed in the Budget is unlikely to see a major shift of rail passengers to the aviation sector.

Pointing out that the seats subsidised by UDAN (the offficial name for the RCS) are just 40 per day, Amber Dubey, partner and India head of aerospace and defence, KPMG, said it will have negligible impact on other modes of traffic.

“What it will do, however, is bring an unconnected city on to the national aviation grid. It will expand the market by bringing in tourists and businessmen who may not otherwise have travelled to that unconnected city,” Amber said.

Sharat Dhall, COO, said: “We expect that making it easier to travel between these cities will increase movement of people and help the travel market grow.”

Synergies to propel growth

Abhijit Mishra, Director, India and Middle-East, Kayak, pointed out that while Udaan would bring with it new travel opportunities, the Railways will see traction from travellers for short distances as it is more cost-effective.

“With the government focusing both on railways and aviation, we see a perfect synergy of both the sectors coming together to propel growth in the tourism sector,” he said.

Analysts point to difficulties, especially that the airports are far away from most cities, and lack transit connectivity, meaning passengers will be forced to pay for a taxi ride that could well be more than the airfare!

For instance, the Delhi-Shimla route, flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to launch the RCS. While the Delhi-Shimla fare was as low as Rs.2,037, passengers would have to pay Rs. 2,500 as cab fare from the airport to the city.

It would be cheaper to take tje train from Delhi, reaching Shimla directly at a fraction of the cost of the air and taxi travel combined.

[The Hindu Business Line]