Chinese conglomerate Zongshen Industrial Group (ZIG) is in talks to acquire shareholdings in seaplane operators located in the Maldives and the United States. The firm already acquired a 49% stake in Canada's Harbour Air Seaplanes (Vancouver Coal Harbour) in 2015.

According to Xinhua, Chairman Zuo Zongshen said in line with the firm's plans to become the world's largest operator of commercial amphibious aircraft, negotiations were currently underway to acquire a stake in the biggest seaplane airline in the Maldives - Trans Maldivian Airways (HUM, Malé) - this year. The purchase, if approved, will see ZIG spend "billions of yuan", he said.

Trans Maldivian Airways operates an all-amphibian fleet of one DHC-6-100, one DHC-6-200, thirty-nine DHC-6-300s, and three DHC-6-400s on regular flights throughout the Maldivian archipelago.

The carrier is controlled by US venture capital firm, Blackstone, which, in 2013, acquired controlling stakes in two Maldives-based seaplane operators – Maldivian Air Taxi (Malé) and Trans Maldivian Airways - before merging the two under the Trans Maldivian Airways brand.

Chairman Zuo also confirmed talks are underway to acquire a shareholding in Washington-based operator, Kenmore Air (M5, Kenmore). Kenmore currently operates a variety of aircraft including the DHC-2 Beaver, the Turbine Beaver, the DHC-3, the Cessna (single turboprop) 208 Caravan and Grand Caravan, the Cessna (single piston) 180, and the Piper (single piston) Super Cub.

Kenmore has already had significant dealings with China. In 2015, it signed a USD40 million contract with the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) to design, certify and manufacture pontoon floats for its Y12. The deal, which is for 100 aircraft, will result in the Y12 being certified for amphibian operations. Deliveries are expected to begin by the end of this year.

For its part, ZIG Zongshen Industrial Group Co., Ltd. is a diversified investment holding group with interests in industrial equipment manufacturing, real estate, automobile sales, financial, and mining.