Seaplanes to fly from Feb

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Those who still believe Emerging Kerala will yield nothing had better watch out. Seaplanes will start flying across Kerala by February 2013. Airports in Kochi, Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode will function as hubs for the fleet of seaplanes, said Tourism Secretary Suman Billa at Kerala Travel Mart on Friday.

This is perhaps the first proposal to emerge into a project after some 58 operators sent in their expression of interest for seaplanes at the recent Emerging Kerala meet.

Seaplane is amphibian aircraft which can operate both on land and water. A single engine craft can carry eight to nine passengers and the double engine craft up to 16 passengers.

Mr Billa said 22 destinations in the state would be connected to the airports and travellers could reach any of these places within 20 minutes from the respective airport.

“This will add another layer of connectivity and the low-flying craft will be a major boost to the tourism industry. The detailed project report has been finalized and talks are on with operators. We will soon short-list them,” he said.

“Chief Minister Oommen Chandy wants this project to take off by February and it has been given the pride of place in the department’s scheme of things,” Mr Billa said.

Seaplanes taking off from airports would land on water bodies like the backwaters near Bolgatty Palace in Kochi, Mattupetty dam in Idukki or Ashtamudi Lake in Kollam. “As the operation of this plane does not need additional land area for landing, the project can become operational once the operator gets mandatory clearances from the Director-General of Civil Aviation,” said Tourism Director Rani George.

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