New Delhi– Union Minister Suresh Prabhu on Thursday called upon state governments to join the regional air connectivity scheme, Udan, to realise the growth benefits from the multiplier effect of travel and tourism.

Inaugurating the third edition of ‘Wings 2019’ here, the Commerce and Industry and Civil Aviation Minister said that in order to make air travel affordable and accessible to the common man, states would have to be integral partners in the scheme and join hands with airlines and other stakeholders.

“It is the states where the action is. It is they who will have to drive the process and become beneficiaries of growth,” he said at the event which was jointly organised by the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) with the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA).

The states, he said, would have to envisage having facilities to accommodate wide-body aircraft from their airports.

On January 25, the Central government awarded contracts to 11 companies to operate fixed-wing and seaplane services under the third round of Udan scheme connecting destinations like Ambala, Amravati, Campbell Bay and Car Nicobar among others.

Accordingly, the ministry issued “Letter of Awards” for 73 proposals involving 235 regional connectivity scheme (RCS) and water aerodrome routes which were received under the third round of RCS-Udan.

This was the first time that proposals for connecting tourist destinations and seaplane services have been awarded. In the current scheme, the support fund for routes connecting tourist destinations will be provided by the Ministry of Tourism.

Subsequently, flight operations are expected to connect destinations like Kushinagar, Jharsuguda, Saharanpur(Sarsawa), Guwahati River Front, Nagarjuna Sagar, Statue of Unity in Gujarat among others.

According to the ministry, 16 unserved and 17 underserved airports, along with six water aerodromes and 50 served airports would be connected, based on the proposals identified for the award.

Currently, 128 routes have been started under the various phases of the Udan scheme. (IANS)