Akshay Kumar– Mumbai
One of the most awaited projects in the Goa tourism industry, the seaplane project, may soon become a reality. The Goa Tourism Development Corporation (GTDC) is awaiting clearances from the Capt. of Ports for their NOC, permitting the seaplane operations in various waterdromes which have been identified by them. Once the Capt. of Ports will give their nod, the seaplanes may take off within two months. An inhouse feasibility study has already been done by the corporation. The seaplanes service in Goa will be operated by Maritime Energy Heli Air Services (MEHAIR) in association with GTDC.
Speaking exclusively to Express TravelWorld, Nikhil Desai, managing director, GTDC and director, department of tourism, Government of Goa, said, “Once the NOC is received, MEHAIR will create the necessary infrastructure at the sites and invite the DGCA for their audit of the location and facilities. This will be followed by a trial landing, approval of SOPs by DGCA and then launch of commercial operations. The starting point is the NOC from the Capt. of Ports. Post NOC, it will take between 45 days to 60 days for commercial launch.”
The routes which the company has proposed so far are connecting the airport with central Goa namely; Dona Paula Jetty, Miramer Beach, Coco Beach and Chapora Jetty. Apart from these routes the company has plans to connect Mandovi and also central Panjim if permissions are acquired. Phase II of this project which will be initiated after six to nine months from launch will connect most of the beach fronts in Goa which are very popular with tourists. For the services in Goa, MEHAIR will be deputing a Cessna 208A aircraft which is an amphibian model and can undertake runway to water operations in the course of the same flight.
Speaking about seaplanes as a big tourism attraction, Desai, said, “A seaplane operation anywhere always creates excitement and has a tendency to attract tourists by tapping into their curiosity and thrill seeking instincts. It is a novel concept in India which provides convenience of travel with the excitement of water takeoffs and landings. It will definitely add to the tourism lure of Goa.”
“There is no initial investment by GTDC. There will be investment from the private sector. The ballpark figure will be around INR15 crore,” commented Desai when asked about the total investment.