• Seaplanes may soon be operating commercial passenger flights in India with the Centre inviting bids for connecting selected destinations under the regional connectivity scheme (RCS).
• Included among the 10 destinations that the government proposes to connect through seaplanes are the recently unveiled Statue of Unity at Sardar Sarovar Dam, Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad, Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand and Nagarjuna Sagar in Telangana.
• The third round of the RCS, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has invited proposals for air routes that include tourist destinations. The deadline for submitting applications is November 20.
• In the latest phase, the Centre is reoffering 34 airports that weren’t successfully connected, primarily because two airlines Air Odisha and Air Deccan were unable to operate routes they had bid for due to lack of funds.
• Some destinations have been put on the block again as helicopter operations failed to take off.
• The previous two rounds saw a total of 428 routes awarded to 17 airlines and helicopter operators.
• Air Odisha was granted rights to connect 54 routes and Air Deccan 30, but both have been able to only start 10 routes each, which too see erratic services.
• Few airports which are deprived of regular connectivity due to default of few airlines have been added.
• The Centre has also offered 23 tourist destinations including Bodh Gaya, Agra, Kanha, Varanasi, Hampi, Mysore and Kullu.
Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, Railways etc.
Prelims level: UDAN scheme
Mains level: Need and importance of better air connectivity in India