Davos: Bullish on the growth prospects for seaplanes in India, leading airline SpiceJet’s CEO Ajay Singh has said this new mode of transport can boost the country’s tourism sector in a big way as they can convert any pond into an airport and can make any river a runway.
Stating that SpiceJet was the first in the country to bring in this concept on a pilot basis, Singh said the use of seaplane by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during Gujarat elections has given it a further push.
“We can see a lot of interests from several states and the prime minister using a sea plane has given it a further push. Everyone feels it can boost tourism in a very big way in connecting places that are difficult to access by roads or any other means but have rivers and ponds," Singh told PTI in an interview.
Singh, who was here to attend the World Economic Forum annual meeting from 22-26 January, said the seaplanes have a great growth potential.
“We were the first to bring them to India with an aim to use them in areas where it was difficult to build airport infrastructure. So we thought let’s use this alternative technology that allows every river to become a runway and every pond to be an airport. This is a really revolutionary technology that can connect from anywhere to everywhere," he said.
Seaplanes are typically fixed-wing aircraft with much fewer number of seats and can take off from, and land on, water. While they have been in use since 19th century, they lagged behind full fledged aircraft after heavy investments were made in setting up airports in 20th century, but have again been re-emerging on the scene as a niche segment.
In India, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari has been talking regularly about a huge growth potential for seaplanes and has been even pitching for manufacturing them within the country.
“If it (operating seaplanes) is done properly, sea planes can be a big thing. There are no rules and regulations as of now and as soon as the rules are in place and if a proper framework is introduced, we can do substantial connectivity with seaplanes," said Singh, who has overseen a major turnaround at Spicejet ever since he acquired the airline.