Travel between prominent business and tourism hubs in Uttar Pradesh would be speedier with intra-state air taxi service likely to take off from October.
In first phase, Lucknow-Allahabad, Lucknow-Agra, Lucknow-Meerut and Lucknow-Varanasi circuits would be connected through air.
Responding to a UP tourism advertisement soliciting expression of interest, about 18 companies, including Jet Serve Aviation, Indus Airways, Aryan, Northeast Shuttles, CD Aviation, Fairwinds Aviation etc have submitted proposals, according to UP tourism director general Amrit Abhijat.
To encourage air taxis, the state government would underwrite 30% of their seats, meaning the airlines would be compensated for 30% of seats in case they remain vacant.
To attract aviation companies, the government would give exemption in Value Added Tax (VAT) on fuel to non-scheduled airlines just like scheduled airlines. They are proposed to attract VAT rate of 4% vis-à-vis the applicable rate of 21%.
However, VAT exemption would be given to those airlines, which operate within the state. Aircraft weighing up to 40 tonnes would be eligible for VAT waiver.
The airlines would be provided with free take off and landing facilities at state air strips.
This ‘Open Sky Policy’ was ratified by the UP cabinet on June 3 and the Government Order (GO) issued on June 16. Important towns of Agra, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Meerut, Allahabad, Lucknow, Chitrakoot, Moradabad and Kushinagar are proposed to be connected through indigenous air services.
Meanwhile, six aviation companies had recently given presentation before Abhijat.
The government intends to connect Buddhist Circuit with air service. This would envisage connecting Kushinagar with direct flight from Lucknow or via Gorakhpur.
On July 1, 2013, the cabinet had granted in-principle approval to air service and UP State Tourism Development Corporation (UPSTDC) anointed as nodal agency.