Seaplane with water salute in Kerala
Kerala Tourism today received a shot in the arm as the first seaplane to enter a pioneering service that will connect the state’s most popular backwater destinations arrived at Kochi airport to a ceremonial welcome.
Hon’ble Minister for Tourism Shri A P Anil Kumar, accompanied by State Planning Board Vice Chairman Shri K M Chandrasekhar and Tourism Secretary Shri. Suman Billa, formally received the aircraft as it touched down at the Nedumbassery international airport here at 12.15 pm, on its maiden flight to Kerala.
The six-seater Cessna 206 H amphibian aircraft, capable of flying five hours at a stretch, was welcomed at the airport’s aircraft maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) hanger with a water salute by two tankers of the CIAL fire force.
The aircraft was escorted from the runway to the MRO area by a pilot jeep of CIAL. It was flown in by Captain Michael Fabry, a Belgian national, who has about 3,500 hours of flying experience.
Speaking to media persons at the airport, Shri Anil Kumar described the introduction of the seaplane as a big boost to the fast growing tourism sector and said the service would be formally inaugurated by Chief Minister Shri Oommen Chandy at Ashtamudi lake in Kollam district on June 2.
He also thanked the various central ministries for their coordinated efforts in granting approval for the pioneering project in less than one and a half years of the proposal being put before the Centre.
The Minister allayed apprehensions that the operation of the seaplane will affect fishing operations and fishery resources in the state’s backwaters, saying all these concerns will disappear once the service becomes operational.
Shri. K M Chandrasekhar said the introduction of the seaplane in Kerala marks a new chapter in the country’s civil aviation sector and it will soon encourage other coastal states to follow suit.
Shri. Suman Billa said the seaplane operation is a turning point for tourism promotion activities. He informed that the service will have the four airports of Trivandrum, Kochi, Calicut and Mangalore as base stations and will connect key backwater tourism destinations of Ashtamudi in Kollam, Punnamada in Alappuzha and Bekal in Kasaragod districts.
Bengaluru-based Kairali Aviation will run the maiden service of the seaplane project which is based on a Zero Subsidy – Open Sky Policy. The seaplanes will fly roughly 6,500 feet above ground providing panoramic views of the lush green Kerala landscape.
Besides Kairali Aviation, Kerala Tourism has shortlisted four other companies for operating the seaplane services. “Once the other agencies begin operations, it will give ample scope for competition in this sector. We expect it to be a very profitable activity, going by the growing number of domestic and overseas tourists reaching the state every year,” Shri. Billa said.
Kerala Tourism Infrastructure Limited (KTIL) Managing Director Shri Anil Kumar and CIAL senior officials including Airport Director Shri. A Chandrakumaran Nair, Exe. Director (Engg. Services) Shri. A M Shabeer, Advisor Security Shri. P Gourisankar; MD, CIASL (MRO Operator) Shri. R.Venkiteswaran; AGM (operations) Shri. C.Dinesh Kumar, AAI Airport Director Shri. R S D’Cruz; CISF Sr. Commandant Dr. Shishir Kumar Gupta, Asst. Commissioner of Customs Shri. Anil Kumar and Immigration PRO Shri. S. K Nair were present at the function.