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SpiceJet plans to introduce amphibian planes for regional services

LiveMint logoLiveMint 04-10-2017 PTI

Guwahati: To enhance regional air connectivity, SpiceJet on Wednesday said it plans to introduce up to 14-seater amphibian planes and is in discussions with Japan’s Setouchi Holdings for purchase of such aircraft. The no-frills airline is looking to operate 10 and 14 seater amphibious planes, which can also take off from as well as land on water bodies.

Announcing the plans here, SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said the airline is delighted to join hands with Setouchi Holdings and would explore new opportunities. “With the ability to land in a small or confined space, smaller fixed wing aircraft are the perfect flying machines that can effectively connect the country’s remote cities and air strips which can in turn revolutionise the regional connectivity scheme,” he said.

Quest Aircraft Company, LLC—part of Japan’s diversified Tsuneishi Group—is a manufacturer of amphibian planes. The company is owned by Setouchi Holdings, part of Tsuneishi Group. Quest Aircraft also manufactures Kodiak 100 aircraft that can carry up to eight passengers, depending on the configuration.

It can take off and land on a short runway as well as handle uneven terrain and mountainous areas, according to the Japanese group. “Indian market is the most important market,” Setouchi Holdings executive managing director Go Okazaki said.

The government’s regional connectivity scheme (RCS) seeks to provide air connectivity to unserved and under-served airports as well as make flying more affordable. Under RCS, also known as ‘Ude Desh ka Aam Naagrik’ (UDAN), fares are capped at Rs2,500 for one-hour flights.

The participating airlines are provided viability gap funding (VGF) from regional connectivity fund (RCF). Currently, SpiceJet operates three RCS flights—Mumbai to Kandla, Mumbai to Porbandar and Hyderabad to Puducherry.

The airline has plans to launch such flights from Delhi to Jaisalmer, Kanpur and Adampur as also from Jaipur to Jaisalmer. SpiceJet does not take VGF extended by the government under UDAN. The budget airline operates an average of 384 daily flights, with a fleet of 35 Boeing 737NG and 20 Bombardier Q- 400 planes.

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