The next time you wish to travel to Lonavala, Shirdi, Murud-Janjira or Bhandardhara, you will have the option of flying there, as Mumbai is all set to get its first seaplane service to Maharashtra’s most popular tourist destinations from June. This will also include a commuter service from Juhu to Nariman Point for just Rs 750.
Having received all the necessary aviation, tourism and security clearances, Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd (MEHAIR), which currently operates seaplane services in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, is ready to launch services in Maharashtra with Mumbai as its base.
A top Airport Authority of India (AAI) official in Mumbai said, “The company applied for government and aviation-related clearances at the end of 2012. They have received all necessary clearances from the government, which has asked us to provide hanger and parking facilities for the operator on priority.”
Mehair will use Cessna 208 (amphibian) aircraft, which can accommodate up to nine passengers, for the service. “We want to charge our customer affordable rates. A journey from Juhu to Nariman Point could easily cost Rs 750 in a radio cab, and take at least a hour. We plan to charge the same fare for our service, which will complete the journey in just three to five minutes,” Verma said.
Meanwhile, the Mumbai police have also given their clearance and will conduct a security review soon. “We received an application for providing security to MEHAIR’s seaplane services in Mumbai, which we have cleared from our side. We have given them instructions for safe operations and will also conduct a security review soon,” said, Mahdhukar Pandey, additional commissioner of police, protection and security branch.
Top officials from MEHAIR confirmed to Mirror that they are prepared to launch services from June. Tourist destinations covered in the first phase will include Lonavla, Murud-Janjira, Bhandardhara and Shirdi. Apart from this, there will also be a full-fledged commuter service from Juhu to Nariman Point. “We are prepared to start services from June. Our purpose is to give tourism in Maharashtra a boost,” said Siddharth Verma, director of MEHAIR. “The only clearance remaining is from the irrigation department,” Verma added.
Jagdish Patil, manading director, Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC), said, “These services will boost tourism greatly. Seaplanes will turn vacation destinations into weekend destinations. The fatigue and expenditure involved in reaching your destination will also come down drastically.”