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India To Boost Island Tourism With Seaplane Launch

by Mary Swire,, Hong Kong

31 December 2010

India’s Civil Aviation Minister, Praful Patel has welcomed the launch of India’s first seaplane service by Pawan Hans Helicopters, at a ceremony held at Juhu Aerodromme in Mumbai.

Patel said the government plans to expand the services to most of the popular island and coastal destinations. He said: “The Centre is permitting 100% foreign direct investment in this sector and service providers like Pawan Hans should float a subsidiary to run a fleet of seaplanes.”

The ‘Jal Hans’ seaplane is a Cessna Caravan 208, amphibian fitted, with the modern navigation features of any large jet. It has a total seating capacity of 10 of which eight are passenger seats. It can travel at up to 250 km per hour and can land on most calm waters, but also on land using the wheels configuration.

The Civil Aviation Secretary, Nasim Zaidi, announced: “The service will be operational in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands as per a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the Andaman and Nicobar Administration and Pawan Hans Helicopters.”

"The service will connect Port Blair with Havelock and subsequently other islands in North Andaman. In Port Blair, it is proposed to operate from the airport. In Havelock and Diglipur, it will operate from a waterdrome," the government said.

Andaman & Nicobar Islands have been witnessing steady increase in tourist numbers, as the tropical rain forests and waters of the Bay of Bengal are home to a vast collection of plant, animal and marine life. Adventure tourism, including trekking, island camping, snokelling and scuba diving are also becoming popular in the Andaman Islands. The launch of seaplane operations is expected to boost tourism infrastructure.

TAGS: marine | India | aviation

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