Saturday, January 26, 2019

Paperwork issues, security norms stand in way of Andaman’s seaplane plans

New Delhi: The government’s ambitious plans to connect Andaman and Nicobar Islands via water aerodromes have run into turbulent winds as the only operator to bid for the six water aerodromes in the union territory was not awarded the routes under UDAN due to “problems with paperwork”.

Even though there were four water aerodromes at Andaman and Nicobar up for bidding under the third edition of UDAN scheme — Havelock, Neil Island, Long Island and Hutbay — none of them were awarded during the announcement of the results the scheme on Friday. While a senior Civil Aviation Ministry official did not disclose the exact nature of paperwork issues with the sole bidder for these water aerodromes, it was learnt that the operator — Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd — had been reached out to by the Ministry to seek the proper documentation, following which its bids would be reconsidered next month.
On Friday, the Civil Aviation Ministry awarded six water aerodromes under UDAN 3.0 that will be connected by seaplanes. These are Guwahati River Front and Umrangso Reservoir in Assam; Sabarmati River Front, Statue of Unity and Shatrunjay Dam in Gujarat; and Nagarjuna Sagar in Telangana.
The routes in Telangana have been awarded to Turbo Aviation, while the routes in Gujarat and Assam have been bagged by SpiceJet.
When asked about the readiness of seaplane infrastructure in the country, Civil Aviation Secretary R N Choubey said that the water aerodromes will be built by the Airports Authority of India. “The work will start. We expect that within six to eight months, we will be able to make it functional because water aerodrome does not require a runway. We basically have to prepare a jetty and a terminal building and we expect that in six to eight months we’ll be able to get it done,” Choubey said, in reference with the infrastructure for water aerodromes awarded on Friday.
27/01/19 Pranav Mukul/Indian Express