New Delhi, Feb 01: Reading out the Budget 2018 speech in Lok Sabha on Thursday, February 1, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that the Airport Authority of India (AAI) will now have 124 airports and this number will be further increased.

Jaitley also mentioned that low cost air connectivity scheme UDAN (Ude Desh ka har Aam Nagrik) will connect 56 unreserved airports and 31 unreserved helipads across the country.  Operations at 16 airports have already been started under this scheme.

UDAN is a government initiative to make air travel affordable for the common man. Airlines are required to bid for exclusive rights to fly on the regional routes opened up under the scheme. They must sell a specific number of seats on each flight at a fixed fare of Rs 2,500 for one hour of flying. In the case of helicopter operations, allowed for the first time now, fares are capped at Rs 2,500 for a 30-minute flight.

UDAN also makes travel to remote cities quite affordable. It connects city pairs such as Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh to Delhi three times a week at maximum fares of Rs 1,650, Cooch Behar in West Bengal to Guwahati in Assam at fares up to Rs 1,570, and Burnpur to Guwahati for up to Rs 2,570 for the seats to be sold under the scheme.