Finally, after a long wait, India has got its first Air Taxi service which has been launched in Chandigarh. This Air Taxi service comes under the government’s UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, which has been set up to increase the air connectivity in the 2nd and 3rd tier cities in India by making it affordable so as to let common citizens fly as suggested by the name of the scheme. Launched in 2017, the long term goal of this initiative is to add 425 airports which are currently not operational and connect it to the major airports across the country.
The Air Taxi will be operated on the Chandigarh-Hisar route in the first phase and with the top speed being close to 250 kmph the travel time between the two cities will get reduced from 5 hours to all the way down to a mere 45 minutes. Other routes which are expected to come up include; Chandigarh – Dehradun, Hisar – Dharamshala and Hisar – Dehradun. There are plans to connect tourist-centric places like Shimla, Kullu and more in the future.
The Air Taxi service will be undertaken by the Tecnam P2006T twin-engine aircraft manufactured by Costruzioni Aeronautiche Tecnam which will have a maximum seating capacity of 4 people including the pilot. As of now, a Volvo bus one way trip for the Chandigarh – Hisar route costs INR 700 meanwhile, the round trip of the same route will cost about INR 1,755 via the Air Taxi which is not at all substantially high and will enable the common citizen to use the service, fulfilling the main objective of the UDAN scheme.
After the launch of this service, a total of 307 routes, 54 airports including 2 water aerodromes and 5 helipads has been added till date. This regional connectivity scheme is aimed towards improving the air connectivity across the country which will in return boost the businesses across the emerging cities by connecting them to the metro cities. The scheme will also help generate jobs in the aviation field which has taken a major hit in the current coronavirus pandemic.