Sunday, December 17, 2017

Modi’s journey rekindles Kerala’s seaplane hopes

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi grabbed headlines by taking off in a seaplane from Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad to Dharoi dam in Mehsana district, about 180 km away, as part of the Gujarat Assembly election campaign. It has been billed as the first-ever flight by such a craft in the country. But back home, the much-touted seaplane project of Kerala, which has been hanging fire for the past few years, is yet to take wings.

However, the high-octane publicity garnered by the Prime Minister’s seaplane journey has once again rekindled the hopes of starting seaplane services connecting various destinations inside Kerala and Lakshadweep.Sasikumar K R, managing director of Kairali Aviation, which had a couple of years ago brought a Cessna 206 H amphibian aircraft to the Cochin International Airport for commencing operations, said the firm has decided to approach the state government seeking permission to start the services. The aircraft was taken on lease from a Dubai-based company.
“The service can be launched only if the state government gives an exclusivity in holding services to Kairali Aviation for a certain period. The company has already incurred a loss of `1.57 crore in connection with taking the aircraft on lease from a Dubai-based firm and retaining the pilot apart from paying parking fee to the Cochin International Airport. With uncertainty prevailing over the launch of the services, the aircraft was later handed over to the Maritime Energy Heli AIR Services Pvt Ltd,” he said. 

 Meanwhile, the state government has already spent an amount of `13.57 crore for developing infrastructure for seaplane at Ashtamudi and Punnamada lakes after getting clearance from the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security and Directorate General of Civil Aviation. The state government feels permission for launching services can be given after taking the fishermen communities into confidence and if the licensed seaplane service holders approach the government. 
17/12/17 Dhinesh Kallungal/New Indian Express