HYDERABAD: It took one visit by
Prime Minister Modi
earlier this month to Lakshadweep to generate unprecedented interest in promoting
in India. Not surprisingly, the one stall getting a lot of visitors at the ongoing
Hyderabad Air Show
which makes the Twin Otter — the highly popular and only twin engine seaplane which PM Modi had flown to and from Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati river in October 2020.
As of now, India does not have any
but government is going all out to start the same in a big way.
“We are in talks with a couple of serious players who are already in aviation business but not airlines and want to start seaplane service in India. We are getting a lot of walk-in queries for seaplanes. The interest is truly amazing,” Yogesh Garg, De Havilland’s regional VP (sales) Asia Pacific & Middle East, told TOI.
Garg had got the seaplane to India from Maldives’ Island Aviation in 2020 which was used by PM Modi to inaugurate the the country’s first seaplane service between the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya in Gujarat’s Narmada district and Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad. A water aerodrome has been set for this flight. SpiceJet could not operate this route beyond a few months and the service stopped. As of now there are no seaplanes operational in India. However, that could change very soon.
“Several state governments are very keen on having this service. For instance, Gujarat wants the Statue of Unity service to restart; Uttarakhand is keen on Tehri lake and the Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep administrations want it to link islands. These are just some of the proposed places,” Garg said.
Maldives, he said, has 93 seaplanes in operation as of now and adds three to five more annually. “The Twin Otter is one of the sturdiest planes (the plane PM Modi flew in was about 50 years old). Its list price is $7.8 million. The floats required to make it an amphibious plane (capable of operating from water and land) costs an additional $ 0.5 million,” he said.
The aviation ministry plans to have several water ports in India. The recent Maldives-Lakshadweep controversy has given an impetus to promote island tourism in India that has awesome archipelagos like Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep.