Mumbai: Ozar airport, located in the wine capital of India, Nashik, around 120 kilometres from Mumbai airport, is all set to become a bustling airport on domestic routes. It has been defunct for the last three weeks, after Air Deccan failed to operate flights and pay salaries to the staff. The carrier had been operating services from Nashik to other cities for the past three months but has now been replaced with SpiceJet by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).
Under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Nagrik) scheme, several private air-carriers have shown interest in starting services from Nashik to Delhi, Mumbai and other cities across the country. In the next month, five new routes will be operational from Nashik.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in Mumbai is one of the busiest airports in India. The proposed Navi Mumbai international airport is expected to be functional by the end of 2021. Until then, Ozar airport, 18 kilometres from Nashik City is likely to emerge as the best option for the CSIA to divert air traffic as well as to reduce its passenger load. The attractive ‘offer package’ under UDAN is drawing private players to Nashik. It is expected that in the near future, Nashik will be connected to Delhi, Pune, Allahabad, Bhopal, Ahmedabad and Indan through air.
“SpiceJet will begin services from Nashik to Mumbai, Prayagraj and Indan (Haryana) and from Jalgaon to Mumbai from February 13. Turbo Mega’s TruJet will begin services from Kolhapur to Mumbai, Nashik to Pune and Solapur to Mumbai from the same day,” he said.
Under the UDAN scheme, the central government aims to connect small cities by air, with fares equivalent to that of second class air-conditioned train tickets. “Under the scheme, the air carrier has to offer cheaper fares for 50 per cent of the seats and can charge commercial rates for remaining half. The government will reimburse fares for the unoccupied cheap seats,” the official explained. The state must foot 20 per cent of the reimbursement amount, while the Centre will shell out 80 per cent of the amount under viability gap funding (VGF).
The government offers fire safety, security, water and electricity at a concessional rate of 50 per cent. The carriers must provide the service for at least three years. “Earlier, Air Deccan used 32-seater aircraft. But given the good passenger response from passengers, Spice Jet has started to fly 168-seaters on the Nashik-Delhi route. More services are planned. It has ordered 20 aircraft for use on these new routes,” said the official. “Based on public response, suffice to say Nashik will become the busiest airport in the next few months,” he claimed.