Office goers in the country’s financial capital may finally be able to travel across the city to the business district in south Mumbai in a jiffy during peak hours. After a failed attempt by a Juhu-based aviation company around 3 years ago, leading no-frill airline Spicejet is planning to launch amphibian plane services from Girgaum Chowpatty to Juhu Airport and other places in suburbs. A demo flight of the service will be showcased on Saturday in the presence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Union Ministers Nitin Gadkari and Ashok Gajapathi Raju.A similar attempt through seaplane by Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd (MEHAIR), which had the backing of the state government, had failed primarily due to permission issues from government agencies. Some routes connecting Juhu Airport to Lonavla and Nashik, however, did work out for a very short time. “We don’t expect any permission-related issues to cause hindrance as we have been given assurances from the highest level in the government,” a senior official from the airline told DNA Money.The ferry services between Girgaum Chowpatty and Juhu Airport has been in plans for years in order to tap the large chunk of corporate employees and entrepreneurs who use cars or taxis for travelling. During peak hours, the time needed to cover the distance comes to around 1.5 hours, though Bandra-Worli seas link has eased the journey a bit in recent years. With the amphibian planes, the fly time is supposed to come down to around 4 minutes apart from 10-15 minutes of additional time for security procedures.Spicejet had in October signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Japan’s Setouchi Holdings for starting amphibian plane services in India. The airline management claims the project would be sustained only if it is scaled up to over 100 planes. The list price of each aircraft stands around $4 million — thus, 100 aircraft fleet will cost $400 million. The company is exploring at seeking low interest loans from Japan — similar to the one provided for bullet train which is to connect Mumbai with Ahmedabad.The single pilot, 10-14 seater amphibian planes have the ability to take-off and land from places where there is no other mode of transport available and would therefore come handy in a country like India which have hitherto remained unconnected due to infrastructure challenges.Meanwhile, MEHAIR in order to safeguard its business seems to have launched a counter attack and has tweaked its business strategy after Central government’s decision to include amphibian planes under much touted regional connectivity scheme (RCS). The airline has now decided to get into regional air connectivity operations in order to cross-feed its amphibian plane service business and is said to be inducting 10 twin-engine aircraft for connecting the tier-II and tier-III geographies with the metros.Under RCS, the carrier operator is mandated to fly a certain number of seats at price under Rs 2,500 for which they get compensated from the government.EXPENSIVE AFFAIRThe listed price of each aircraft stands around $4 million. Spicejet is exploring low interest loans from Japan — similar to the Bullet train one
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Business capital to soon get seaplanes ferry services