Island-hopping tourists in exotic locales in India will now find travelling to these remote locations a cinch, thanks to the launch of seaplane operations by state-owned Pawan Hans Helicopters in Andaman & Nicobar (A&N) islands.
Civil aviation minster Praful Patel launched the country's first seaplane operations on Monday, following the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Pawan Hans and the A&N administration. The Indian government had approved the scheme - which will be on a 50:50 profit-loss sharing basis - to boost tourism in the islands.
The government, which expects similar services to be introduced in other regions including Lakshadweep, Goa and Orissa, now allows 100 per cent foreign direct investment (FDI) in the sector.
Pawan Hans will operate a Cessna 208A amphibian seaplane, with a capacity to carry eight passengers, besides two crew members, linking Port Blair with Havelock. Later, the service would be extended to other islands in north Andamans.
Other infrastructure - including a 10-passenger speed boat and a stand-by vessel, a floating jetty (pontoon), and a waterdrome have also been developed.
While the seaplane will take off from the Port Blair airport, it will land at the Havelock waterdrome. Similar facilities are being set up in other parts of A&N, to encourage tourists to explore the islands.