Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate India's first seaplane service in Gujarat on October 31, the 146th birth anniversary of Sar Vallabhbhai Patel. The service will offer air connectivity from Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to Statue of Unity in Kevadia in Gujarat and will soon be open to the public.
The service in the country will be operated by SpiceJet. Its seaplane service SpiceShuttle will operate multiple daily flights between the above-mentioned routes.
"The one-of-a-kind seaplane that will give flight to a million dreams made its way to Kevadia (Statue of Unity) at 12.30 pm yesterday from Maldives. Over the next few days, it will undergo extensive trials, following which it will be all set to take off, starting October 31st, 2020," Spice Shuttle tweeted.
The one-of-a-kind seaplane that will give flight to a million dreams made its way to Kevadia (Statue of Unity) at 12.30 pm yesterday from Maldives. In the next few days it will undergo extensive trials, following which it will be all set to take off, starting October 31st, 2020. pic.twitter.com/Fkgbdp3Qdj— Spice Shuttle (@flySpiceShuttle) October 27, 2020
Dr. Rajiv Kumar Gupta, Additional Chief Secretary, Forest and Environment Department and managing director of Gujarat Narmada Valley Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd. (GNFC), had recently tweeted a video of the seaplane taking off from Male, from where it is procured, for Kevadia.
He mentioned in his tweet that the seaplane service in Gujarat would be a regular one with four flights a day. "The seaplane will connect two great and visionary projects given by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the nation-Sabarmati River Front and Statue of Unity. A gigantic leap in making Kevadia a truly international tourist spot (sic)," Dr. Gupta posted.
Sea plane for Kevadia takes off from Male,Maldives.Regular sea plane service, 4 times a day will connect 2 great & visionary projects given by Hon @PMOIndia to the nation-Sabarmati River Front & #StatueOfUnity. A gigantic leap in making Kevadia a truly international tourist spot. pic.twitter.com/ZT4dRY8ZwL— Dr Rajiv Kumar Gupta (@drrajivguptaias) October 25, 2020
The Gujarat government had earlier announced that it had signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Union Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) and Airports Authority of India (AAI) in July (2020) to begin the first-ever "seaplane services in Gujarat to provide seamless and affordable air connectivity from Sabarmati Riverfront, Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity, Kevadia.''
PM Modi took a seaplane flight from Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad to Dharoi back in December 2017, ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections that year.
What are seaplanes?
Seaplanes are typically fixed-wing aircraft with a much fewer number of seats and can take off from, and land on, water. These aircraft use a water aerodrome or seaplane base, which is an area of open water used by them (seaplanes), for landing and taking off.
While seaplanes have been in use since the 19th century, they lagged behind full-fledged aircraft after heavy investments were made in setting up airports in the 20th century. But they have again been re-emerging on the scene as a niche segment.
SpiceJet to operate seaplane service
The first of its kind service in the country will be managed by SpiceJet, which will operate a 19-seater plane, that can accommodate 12 passengers. Its seaplane service SpiceShuttle will operate multiple daily flights between the Sabarmati riverfront and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's Statue of Unity.
Ticket price for seaplane service
The Twin Otter 300 seaplane leased by SpiceJet can be hired at Rs 4,800 per person. There will be four flights a day between Ahmedabad and Kevadia on each side, meaning four arrivals and four departures.
Distance between Ahmedabad and Kevadia
The seaplane will take around 45 minutes to cover the distance between Ahmedabad and Kevadia. The aerial distance between the two destinations is approximately 200 kilometres, while it takes around four hours by road (one way). Passengers can also book return tickets on the seaplane.