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Seaplane service between Statue of Unity & Sabarmati Riverfront shut due to high maintenance cost

The seaplane service between the Statue of Unity in Kevadiya, Gujarat, and Ahmedabad’s Sabarmati Riverfront has been shut down because of the prohibitive cost of operation and high maintenance costs, according to State Civil Aviation Minister Balvantsinh Chandansinh Rajput, reports Darshan Desai for The Free Press Journal.

The flight, touted as India’s first seaplane service, was inaugurated with much fanfare by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 31, 2020. From then till it was shut down in April 2021, the Gujarat Government has spent INR 13.15 crore on it and at least on two occasions the plane had to be sent to Malaysia for service and repairs.

“The state government was forced to close down the service as the aircraft was of foreign registration and there were problems in its maintenance and operation,” Rajput said in reply to a question by Congress MLA Arjun Modhwadia.

“The operating cost of the aircraft was quite high and the operator could not bear the financial burden of running it,” Rajput told the assembly. However, the Minister was quick to add that the “government plans to restart the service”.

The state government has plans to bring about air connectivity between various cities in Gujarat, the Minister said, adding that the first phase will see flights on the Ahmedabad-Keshod-Porbandar-Ahmedabad sector.

A 9-seater aircraft would be used for this route, the Minister said in reply to a question by BJP MLA Yogesh Patel. The service would begin soon, Bera said but did not name the airline that would operate the intra-state service.
The government also had plans to start helicopter connectivity to places of religious and tourist interest in the state, Rajput said. Initially, the service would be provided for Somnath, Ambaji, Dwarka, Gir, and Saputara and the government would develop helipads at these places, he said.

Heliports would also be developed at Hansol in Ahmedabad district and Gunja in Mehsana district, the minister said, adding that consultants had been appointed for this. (Source: The Free Press Journal)

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