Seaplane services in India for the first time--for tourism

An eight-seater amphibian aircraft would be used by state-run Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited from the New Year to ferry tourists between Port Blair and Havelock Island to begin and gradually to other destinations.

While Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel would launch the first seaplane of PHHL at a function in Mumbai on Monday, the actual operations in the Andamans are likely to begin from January 1 or 2, company sources said.

Flights would be provided by an amphibious Cessna 208A seaplane which can carry eight passengers and two crew members. The PHHL and Andaman and Nicobar Administration had signed an MoU on the seaplane operation under a central scheme to give impetus to tourism in the island. The operations shall be on a 50:50 loss/profit sharing basis between the two parties, an official spokesperson said.

Hundred per cent FDI is allowed in seaplane operations, as per the policy in the civil aviation sector. The seaplane service would first connect Port Blair with Havelock Island and subsequently extended to other islands in the North Andamans, she said.

In Port Blair, the seaplane would operate from the airport and land at or take off from identified waterdromes in Havelock and Diglipur. To facilitate safe operations, facilities for ferrying of passengers from the shore to the pontoons, sanitization of the waterdrome before take-off and landing, speed-boats of 10- passenger capacity and standby inflatable boats would be deployed. Floating jetties or pontoons have already been placed in these locations.

The Civil Aviation Ministry also plans to introduce seaplane operations in other parts of the country like Lakshadweep, Goa and Odisha.

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