The Maharashtra Tourist Development Corporation (MTDC), along with a private firm, on Monday flagged off the first commercial seaplane flight in Maharashtra from Mumbai to the tourist destination of Pawana dam in Lonavala.
The service has been launched by a private firm, Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd, which has been operating sea planes in India for the past three years in the Andaman & Nicobar islands.
The flight fare from Mumbai to Pawana Dam is Rs 2,999 per person one-way. The company, along with MTDC, is planning to eventually connect Mumbai with multiple tourist destinations close to four water bodies.
Jagdish Patil, director at MTDC, said, “These services will boost tourism greatly. Seaplanes will turn vacation destinations into weekend destinations. The fatigue involved in reaching these destinations will also come down drastically.”
The seaplane services have been launched with a nine-seater Cessna 208 Amphibian aircraft and a four-seater Cessna 206 Amphibian aircraft.
The MTDC, along with Maritime Energy, has also been trying to start a seaplane service within Mumbai from the Juhu airport to Girgaum chowpatty for more than two years, but the project is stuck awaiting a key approval from the Mumbai City Collector’s office for space to build a jetty at chowpatty.
“A committee under the Bombay High Court has to review the proposal, which the Mumbai City Collector’s office has sent to them. We haven’t received any intimation from them on this yet,” said a government official who did not wish to be named.
In February, there was an attempt to launch the seaplane service in Maharashtra from Mumbai to Sahara Group’s Aamby Valley near Lonavala. However, the operations failed to take off after the Sahara group chief Subrata Roy was arrested in a case related to non-refund of investors’ money.