J&K to get subsidised seaplane service between Dal lake and Manasbal

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Iconic Dal Lake in Srinagar (Photo: Web)

In a bid to enhance connectivity and promote tourism, the government of Jammu & Kashmir Union Territory in India is progressing with plans to establish a subsidized seaplane service between Dal Lake in Srinagar and Manasbal. The Mumbai-based operator Mehair is poised to take on the role of the operator for this ambitious project.

Mohammad Aijaz Asad, the Secretary of the local Civil Aviation Department, has urged officials to expedite the final approvals, particularly concerning the impact on irrigation and flood control. Security aspects are also currently under review. The envisioned direct link between Dal Lake and Manasbal is anticipated to further stimulate tourism in the region, which has already been experiencing steady growth.

Reportedly, Mehair has not disclosed a potential launch date for the new seaplane service. The regional carrier, currently dormant, recently announced plans to acquire its first Cessna C208 Grand Caravan in May 2024, with a goal of having ten planes in its fleet by the end of the year. Two of these aircraft are expected to be outfitted with floats, catering specifically to seaplane operations.

The Indian government is aligning its plans to include dedicated seaplane routes under the upcoming UDAN 5.3 subsidization scheme. This marks the first time the program explicitly targets the seaplane market segment. Seaplane operators will also have the opportunity to bid in the UDAN 5.2 round. India currently lacks commercial seaplane services, despite having numerous suitable waterways and underserved regions.

As the Jammu & Kashmir government moves forward with its seaplane plans, it signals a significant step towards enhancing regional connectivity and tourism, with potential implications for the broader Indian aviation sector. The success of this venture may set a precedent for the inclusion of seaplanes in future aviation development programs across the country.

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