Suspended after launch: SpiceJet seaplane stops service
Indian air carrier SpiceJet, which had loudly launched its first regional seaplane service in the country, seems to have postponed delivering on its promise of cheap air connectivity to smaller towns and cities.
SpiceJet has temporarily terminated the first seaplane service in the country after the grand launch. The Indian air carrier began seaplane operations with only one aircraft on October 31, 2020, but due to mandatory maintenance, the plane was sent to the Maldives and the operator was forced to suspend the service on November 28, 2020.
Regarding the suspension, a spokesman of SpiceJet told local media that in order to run the maintenance, the plane had to be sent to a lessor's facility in the Maldives as the air carrier was not able to complete procedures in the local facility at Ahmedabad.
The airline expected to resume seaplane operations on December 15, 2020, but the promised relaunch failed due to unknown reasons. SpiceJet‘s Twin Otter 300, a seaplane fitted with two turboprop Pratt & Whitney PT6A-27 engines, was supposed to operate two regular daily flights from Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity at Kevadia, Gujarat.
Before the launch, Ajay Singh, the Chairman and Managing Director of SpiceJet, announced that the price of a one-way ticket for 30 minutes flight would start from as little as $20 (Rs 1500) and the seaplane would be able to carry a maximum of 14 passengers with up to 7kg of luggage per person.
“With the ability to land on a small water body, seaplanes are the perfect flying machines that can effectively connect the remotest parts of India into the mainstream aviation network without the high cost of building airports and runways,” noted Singh speaking to the New Indian Express day before the inauguration.
The company wanted to perpetuate the first seaplane service „as one of the most notable events in the history of Indian aviation“ while the new operations should have provided locals the regional air connectivity to smaller towns and cities.
However, as of now, SpiceJet did not provide any updates on when the service would be restarted again.
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