Seaplane service connecting Juhu-Girgaon may start soon

The much-delayed seaplane service between Juhu and Girgaon chowpatty in Mumbai is likely to commence from February 13, when the week-long 'Make in India' event begins in the megapolis.

"The last mile hurdle for launching the service was the clearance from the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). But now we have received even that, paving way for commencing the services between these destinations," Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) Joint Managing Director Satish Soni told PTI here today. He said the intent was to coincide the launch of the services with the mega event to be organised from February 13 to 18.

The MTDC has appointed city-based seaplane operator Maritime Energy Heli Air Services (MEHAIR) for providing the service. "We wanted to start this service at that time of the programme to make it a mega event," he said.

Soni said the clearance from the Defence Ministry, permissions from the Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force was obtained last year and recently the MbPT gave its nod.

The project now only awaits clearance from the collector for setting up porta cabinsto provide basic passenger facilities. "We hope we will get the clearance from the collector in a week and after completing all the necessary formalities we will be able to start the services," he said.

MEHAIR Co-founder and Director Siddharth Verma said the service will provide the much needed boost to the tourism industry.

"The service will provide Mumbaikars the opportunity to travel in a unique, exciting and quick mode of transport between Juhu and Girgaum Chowpatty. It will also provide a huge impetus to the tourism initiative of the state of bringing the proposed destinations of Ganpatipule, Tarkali and Harihareshwar (in Konkan region) within aerial reach of Mumbai," he added.

Initially, when the government had mooted this plan, a minimum fare of Rs 999 per person was decided. However, the government is now rethinking about the introductory fares.

"The Rs 999 fare was proposed more than two years back. But we have not yet finalised the fares," Soni said. Verma, however, said though the proposed invitation pricing of Rs 999 is less than the break-even cost of the company for this sector, this will be a long-term investment which will help build volumes on the other proposed sectors of MEHAIR ex-Mumbai.

"By cutting down the commute time between Juhu and Girgaum chowpatty to between 7-9 minutes, the service will provide a much needed relief from the traffic snarls and also save precious travel time for the users," Verma said.

The Cessna 208A aircraft, which has a capacity of nine passengers and two pilots, will be used for the services, he added.

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