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India looks to seaplane-transportation

Russian and Japanese proposals being examined

Air India AD

River Development Minister Nitin Gadkari has invited industrial groups to tap the potential of seaplane business in India where 111 rivers are being converted into highway waterways or the equivalent of highways.

The minister made the call after a recent announcements by India’s SpiceJet to purchase more than 100 amphibious planes, an investment of US$400 million to boost regional operations.

SpiceJet has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Setouchi Holdings to purchase of the up to 14-seater amphibious aircraft.

A Japanese group is expected to hold a trial show at Varanasi end of November 2017.

Gadkari said a number of proposals from Japanese and Russian companies are being examined for introducing seaplanes at Yamuna and Ganga rivers as well as other waterbodies.

“India has a huge potential in seaplanes that can overhaul connectivity,” he stressed.

“A Russian firm has approached us for supplying 50 seater amphibious planes which have multiple uses right from passenger and cargo transportation to fire-fighting, rescue and defence operations,” the transport and water resources minister told Press Trust of India.

The proposal is being looked into as the firm is also keen for indigenisation of the planes in the long run with suitable partners here.

However, issues such as regulatory permissions, route assessments, creation of hydro ports on the pattern of airports and seaports need to be addressed, he said on 29 October 2017.

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