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Hampi to Gangtok: UDAN spreads wings, travel and tourism traffic soars

Posted : 25 January 2019 04:34:23 | By TWO Bureau | New Delhi

Hampi to Gangtok: UDAN spreads wings, travel and tourism traffic soars

Hampi is now 40 km away from Vidyanagar airport near Ballari. Hampi in Karnataka, Gangtok in Sikkim, Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand and Shimla in Himachal Pradesh are among tourist destinations that have been unlocked since the Centre launched its flagship regional air connectivity scheme UDAN to bring unserved and underserved airports on the country’s aviation map. With nearly 11 lakh passengers flying in the first 20 months of the scheme when airlines started over 120 air routes to 37 unserved and underserved airports, experts in the travel and tourism industry believe that UDAN that started in April 2017 has also been instrumental in pulling crowds to destinations that until now were difficult to reach because they required extended road or rail journeys.

In its list of ‘52 Places to Go in 2019’, The New York Times placed archaeological centre Hampi at number two saying, “… the Unesco World Heritage site has been notoriously difficult to reach, until now. TruJet recently began daily direct flights from Hyderabad and Bangalore to Ballari, a 25-mile drive from Hampi.” Ballari is connected by the Vidyanagar airport, which was classified as an underserved airport under the UDAN scheme. Shimla is around 360 km from Delhi by road and the Delhi-Shimla-Delhi route saw 14,041 passengers on UDAN flights operated by state-owned Alliance Air between April 27, 2017, and September 23, 2018, according to data from the Airports Authority of India. Alliance Air, a subsidiary of Air India, operates four flights a week from Delhi to Shimla, translating into a passenger load factor of nearly 88 per cent.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has been focusing on expanding UDAN to boost India’s tourism sector by connecting popular tourist spots by flights, for which it is working with the tourism ministry. For example, Khajuraho, despite being a developed airport has not seen regular flights due to the seasonality of the tourist location. A senior Aviation Ministry official said that the industry has been asked to develop a business model that can attract airlines to connect such destinations on a regular basis.

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Tags : Hampi, Gangtok, Shimla, Uttarakhand, Ballari, CivilAviation, Tourism

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