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PM Modi launches India's first passenger seaplane service

Rutam Vora Ahmedabad | Updated on October 31, 2020 Published on October 31, 2020

Prime Minister Narendra Modi

Takes first flight from Kevadia to Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday launched India's first seaplane service connecting Kevadia and Ahmedabad.

In the last phase of his two-day eventful visit to Gujarat marking Sardar Patel's 145th birth anniversary, Modi boarded the maiden flight from Kevadia in Narmada district on Saturday noon to arrive at Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad.

The flight covered the distance of nearly 200 kilometres in less than 30 minutes as against the scheduled travel time of 45 minutes. The SpiceJet-operated seaplane will fly four times a day between Ahmedabad and Kevadia with first flight starting at 8 am from Ahmedabad and the last from Kevadia at 4.20 pm.

Notably, this isn't the first seaplane flight for the Prime Minister. In 2017 during campaigning for Gujarat Assembly polls, PM had travelled in a seaplane which took-off from Sabarmati Riverfront for Dhorai dam in Mehsana district in North Gujarat.

Commenting on the occasion, Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, “We are considering some more unique places of tourism to connect with seaplanes. Currently, it is operational between Kevadia and Ahmedabad. But our efforts will be to connect Kevadia with Surat too. We hope to do it soon. There are other suggestions from tourism department, that will be studied as well."

The all-inclusive one-way fares starts at Rs 1500 per person under the UDAN scheme. The tickets will be available on www.spiceshuttle.com for a 15-seater Twin Otter 300 aircraft for these flights. The aircrafts were brought from Maldives.

On reaching Sabarmati Riverfront, the Prime Minister was received by the Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, Governor Acharya Devvrat, Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandavia, Gujarat government's Minister of State for home Pradeepsinh Jadeja, Ahmedabad Mayor Bijal Patel among other dignitaries.

Modi also inaugurated the water aerodromes - the floating concrete jetties developed by REL Marinetek as docking platform for the seaplanes. Marinetek had built these jetties in a short time period of 25 days. Soon after landing at Sabarmati Riverfront, Modi returned to New Delhi in the afternoon.

The Seaplane Specifications

Twin Otter 300 aircraft are among the popular seaplanes across the world. The aircraft brought to Ahmedabad has an accident-free history and is one of the most sought after one for an ultimate flying experience not only in Maldives, but across the world, SpiceJet had informed.

The aircraft has undergone regular maintenance, overhauling and seat refurbishment and has a valid Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC). All the required SoPs to operate these flights are in-line with operational guidance of seaplane operations.

The Twin Otter 300 is fitted with Twin Turboprop Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 engines, known for their reliability.

SpiceJet had conducted seaplane trials in India since 2017 and is the only Indian airline to explore air connectivity through water bodies such as rivers or inland waterways, a SpiceJet statement said.

Seaplanes are the perfect flying machines that can help penetrate into untapped markets and geographies/regions that have challenges owing to its topography.

Seaplanes can land in water bodies like lakes, backwaters and dams thus offering easy access to numerous tourist spots as well.

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Published on October 31, 2020
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