In an ambitious move, the government has decided to introduce seaplane service in the state of Assam to boost connectivity in the area. Airports Authority of India (AAI) will introduce water aerodrome or seaplanes in three locations in Assam for the first time, a top AAI official said.
Three locations have been selected to for the seaplane service, and the water aerodromes are expected to be launched by the year 2021. This includes two locations on Brahmaputra river, Guwahati and Kaziranga National Park, while the third location is Umrangso reservoir in Dima Hasao district.
AAI regional executive director Sanjeev Jindal said that these three locations were selected after a countrywide study to launch the service for the first time in the country. He said that not much investment is required to commence the seaplane services in Assam. “Three jetties would be built in three locations at a cost of Rs 50 crore. Some other small works have to be done before launching the new ferrying mode,” he added.
Contrary to land airports which require high investments in construction of runways, seaplanes or amphibian plans can use any open water surface of sufficient dimension for taking of and landings. Only terminal facilities need to be constructed on land, where planes can be docked and passengers can board and deboard the planes.
The seaplane service will be launched under the UDAN (Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik) scheme, a regional connectivity scheme aiming to develop regional airports to increase the penetration of air travel in the country.
Earlier the government had planned to launch seaplane services in several cities in the country. In December 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had travelled in a seaplane in Ahmedabad which was flown as a demonstration for the service. However, commercial operations could not be started due to various reasons. Kerala government had to abandon a proposal to launch seaplanes in the state due to protests by fishing communities due to apprehensions that the project can affect their livelihoods.
Now the government has renewed the initiative to start seaplane services in the country, and plans to start it with launching the service in Assam within 2 years.