HYDERABAD: If things go according to plan, Andhra Pradesh tourism will get a huge boost in the tourism sector with the first Seaplane from the state set to take off from Vijayawada in three months.
Maritime Energy Heli Air Services (MEHAIR), a pioneer of Seaplane operations in the country which has been operating in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands for the last three years, has been asked to come up with a project report for starting the services in Andhra Pradesh. Officials of MEHAIR recently met with chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu on the issue.
According to sources, the company is likely to submit its report within seven to ten days and if the proposal is accepted, the services may begin by the end of December of in the first week of January. The government, in all likelihood, will approve the proposal given the novelty it brings to the tourism sector and the convenience it provides to passengers to travel to places which are not accessible to normal aircrafts, a higher official in the Andhra Pradesh tourism department told Express.
During the meeting with Naidu, the company is learnt to have sought concessions with regard to air turbine fuel. The state government is likely to consider the request and is expected to either waive off the charges on the fuel completely or bring it down to marginal levels, the sources said.
The smaller aircraft, which has a seating capacity of nine, is amphibious and either requires a one-km long airstrip or a water body which is at least 10 feet deep. “The first operations are likely to be from Vijayawada to Visakhapatnam and later on will be extended to other places like Srisailam, Nagarjuna Sagar and Tirupati,” the official explained.
According to the official, since the Seaplane can land on waters which are not turbulent in suitable climatic conditions, it can be operated to tourist destinations like the Srisailam reservoir, Nagarjuna Sagar reservoir, Corringa in East Godavari, Tatipudi reservoir in Visakhapatnam and other backwaters. “We can come out with tourism packages depending on the viability and keeping in view that the plane can be air-borne for 30 to 45 minutes on an average,” the official said.
Another advantage for the tourism department will lie in the fact that apart from ferrying passengers to their destinations, the plane could be used for aerial surveys. “Travelling in an aircraft and landing on the water will definitely be a thrill for tourists,” the official said and added that once the project is realised, it will be among the attractions that the state will offer.
MEHAIR, Spreading Its Wings
Maritime Energy Heli Air Services (MEHAIR) has been operating sea plane services between islands in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands since January 2011. It entered into MoUs with the state tourism corporations of Maharashtra and Goa and launched operations in Maharashtra in January.
Into the Water
■ Service in AP from Vijayawada to Visakhapatnam after three months
■ MEHAIR to submit report in 7-10 days
■ Sea plane service opens a sea of opportunities for tourism sector
■ To start with 9-seater aircraft and expand in phased manner