NEW DELHI: Private carrier SpiceJet on Wednesday announced the launch of its seaplane service between Ahmedabad (Sabarmati riverfront) and the Statue of Unity at Kevadia, Gujarat. The flights will be operated by Spice Shuttle, SpiceJet’s fully-owned subsidiary.
To begin with, SpiceJet will operate two daily flights on the Ahmedabad-Kevadia route from October 31. The all-inclusive one-way fares will begin from as low as Rs 1500 under the UDAN scheme, the carrier said. SpiceJet will be using a 15-seater Twin Otter 300 aircraft for these flights.
Ajay Singh, Chairman & Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, “The launch of our first seaplane service will be remembered as one of the most notable events in the history of Indian aviation. Our seaplane service between the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad and Statue of Unity in Kevadia will cut down travel time to just about half-an-hour and will be a unique, exhilarating flying experience that would immensely boost travel and tourism."
He added, "Infrastructural challenges have been a key deterrent for providing air connectivity to smaller towns and cities. With the ability to land on a small water body, seaplanes are the perfect flying machines that can effectively connect the remotest parts of India into the mainstream aviation network without the high cost of building airports and runways.”
SpiceJet has secured 18 seaplane routes under the UDAN which includes – Ahmedabad-Kevadia (Sabarmati River Front to Statue of Unity, Sardar Sarovar), Agatti-Minicoy, Agatti-Kavaratti among others.
The carrier said it has conducted thorough 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. While under the first phase, trials of the land plane were conducted in Nagpur and Guwahati, the second phase involved the amphibious aircraft for which trials were held at Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty.
"Regions in the North East, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andaman, Lakshadweep and other coastal areas are a few destinations that are being evaluated for amphibious plane operations," SpiceJet said.
The operator claims that Twin Otter 300 is one of the most versatile and safe aircraft and is well-known for its reliability, rugged construction, incredible short take-off and landing capabilities, payload capacity and excellent external visibility. The Twin Otter 300 is fitted with Twin Turboprop Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 engines.
It said the aircraft has undergone regular maintenance, overhauling and seat refurbishment and has a valid Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC).