Gujarat seaplane service set for resumption after hiatus of five months

Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  The seaplane service connecting the Statue of Unity near Kevadiya in Gujarat’s Narmada district with Sabarmati Riverfront will resume soon. This operation has been suspended for the last five months. The country’s first-ever seaplane service was launched in Gujarat last October. The service has been suspended at least thrice for various reasons.

A senior ministry of civil aviation official said the seaplane service will restart soon. A SpiceJet spokesperson confirmed that the situation was reviewed recently and the operation will resume. “A meeting was held recently to review the Covid situation, assess the market condition and viability. We will soon come up with a plan for resumption of services.”

The airline said that SpiceShuttle’s seaplane service was operating as per schedule till April 9, 2021. “Operations were suspended following an alarming rise in Covid cases, travel restrictions and keeping passenger safety in mind,” it said.

The seaplane service has been operating under the regional connectivity scheme of the aviation ministry. Ministry sources said nearly `45 lakh is due from the state government under the scheme. “The state government has been requested to clear the dues of Seaplane operation between Sabarmati Riverfront and Kevadia. An amount of `0.47 crores is outstanding as VGF share for Regional Air Connectivity Fund Trust (RACFT),” said a source.

In February,  the 15-seater Twin Otter 300 seaplane was flown back to the Maldives for maintenance. Before that, it had flown to the Maldives in December as well to undergo statutory checks. Sources said regular checks are required to ensure safety of the seaplane.

The government believes seaplane projects will provide faster and hassle-free travel options in the long, treacherous and hilly regions of the country. Till now, 16 seaplane routes have been identified under Regional Connectivity Routes under UDAN scheme. The Sabarmati and Sardar Sarovar-Statue of Unity route is included in these 16 routes.