The government of the Indian state of Gujarat spent INR77 million rupees (USD1 million) to start an ill-fated seaplane project that operated for less than six months in 2020/2021, according to recent disclosures in the National Legislative Assembly in the state capital Gandhinagar.

Responding to questions on March 23, 2022, state transport minister Purnesh Modi said the seaplane service that had launched on October 31, 2020, had been down for maintenance for 47 days during those months before it folded on April 10, 2021, reported The Indian Express newspaper.

As reported, the venture was short-lived because its single DHC-6-300 amphibian, 8Q-ISC (msn 321) on wet-lease from Maldivian (Q2, Malé), had to be sent for mandatory maintenance in the Maldives as there were no wet- or dry dock facilities in Ahmedabad.

The seaplane service was supposed to have connected the Sabarmati riverfront in Ahmedabad to the Statue of Unity in Ekta Nagar in the Narmada district under the government-subsidised UDAN regional connectivity scheme.

An unnamed official told The Indian Express the money had been spent on the construction of a seaplane waterdrome at Ekta Nagar and Ahmedabad, plus a maintenance hangar in Ahmedabad.

Moi confirmed the government would make a decision next month on three bids received for a new three-year contract to operate the seaplane service. He said the successful bidder would be allowed to operate either with in-house, or wet-leased capacity.

As reported, amongst the three interested parties, are a private firm from Gujarat, as well as seaplane operator Mehair (Mumbai International), and Ventura AirConnect (Ahmedabad).

Previous operator, SpiceJet subsidiary SpiceShuttle (SG, Delhi International), has reportedly not retendered for the contract. The airline was not immediately available for comment.

Meanwhile, the Gujarat government has also sent a request to the Indian Minister of Civil Aviation, Jyotiraditya Scindia, for an allocation of INR1.2 billion (USD15.7 million) to purchase two seaplanes to independently operate the service. The request has yet to be processed, the newspaper reported.