Kochi: A 19-seater seaplane which will be used for flights between the Sabarmati riverfront and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's Statue of Unity in Gujarat as part of a first-of-its-kind service in the country arrived here from the Maldives on Sunday.
The aircraft landed safely in Venduruthy channel for a transit halt before making its way to Ahmedabad, where the country's maiden seaplane service will be launched between the Sabarmati riverfront and the Statue of Unity in Narmada district.
The service is likely to be launched on October 31 if all goes as per plans, Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya said.
The seaplane, leased by Spicejet, was provided assistance with berthing facility at Kochi Naval jetty and refuelling for their onward journey.
The crew of the seaplane were greeted by Vice Admiral A K Chawla, flag officer commanding-in-chief of Southern Naval Command.
Seaplanes are a natural choice of connectivity between the mainland and Lakshadweep islands. Inland water channels in Kochi and sheltered lagoons in islands offer an ideal space for the seaplanes to land and take-off, he said.
The occasion invoked fond memories of amphibious aircraft operations from Kochi naval base in the yesteryears. Incidentally, the birth of Indian Naval Aviation was also preceded by a similar landing of Sealand aircraft in the Venduruthy channel at Kochi on 04 Feb 1953.
(With inputs from agencies)