India’s first seaplane service by SpiceJet subsidiary SpiceShuttle (SG, Delhi International) remains grounded six months after it suspended operations citing prevalent COVID-19 conditions in India at the time.

On April 15, the venture, which only started on October 31, 2020, halted its operations until further notice. This came after it had temporarily stopped operating in November 2020 when it had to send its single DHC-6-300 (Floats), 8Q-ISC (msn 321), wet-leased from Maldivian (Q2, Malé) for mandatory maintenance with its lessor in the Maldives due to a lack of wet and dry dock facilities in Ahmedabad. According to the ch-aviation fleets module, the aircraft remains stored at Malé.

The carrier started out with flights between the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity in Kevadia.

Neither SpiceShuttle nor SpiceJet was immediately available for comment.

India Today reported “top government officials” as saying: “The service was expected to resume in September this year. However, we have not yet heard from the airline regarding the resumption of service as yet. SpiceJet is in talks with a manufacturer to buy an aircraft. These processes take time and therefore, we are not sure whether and when the new aircraft will be procured and operationalised for the service,” the source said.

The wholly-owned subsidiary of SpiceJet aimed to piggyback on the government’s UDAN subsidised regional connectivity scheme, while also advertising private charters and sight-seeing flights. A notice on its website read: “We are experiencing heavy traffic and there is limited inventory on our flights”.

In 2017, Spicejet conducted seaplane trials in Nagpur, Agatti, Guwahati, and Mumbai’s Girgaum Chowpatty.

According to reports, SpiceJet had secured 18 seaplane routes under the UDAN scheme, which included Ahmedabad-Kevadia, and between Agatti Island and Minicoy.

Regions in India’s North East, including Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andaman, Lakshadweep and other coastal areas had been evaluated for amphibious operations.