The development of scheduled seaplane passenger operations in India received a boost from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who flew on a seaplane on an election trail in his home state of Gujarat, the Financial Express has reported. This support can benefit SpiceJet (SG, Delhi Int'l) and Zoom Air (India) (ZOM, Delhi Int'l) which both eye seaplane operations in West Bengal.

The Indian PM flew on a single-engine seaplane earlier in January, taking off from the Sabarmati river in Ahmedabad and landing near the Dharoi Dam in Mehsana. Such a flight, while convenient, was ostensibly in violation of the PM's own safety protocol which requires him to always fly on twin-engine aircraft.

India has been mulling seaplane operations as a viable way to improve connectivity of remote areas in the country without the need for building costly airport infrastructure for a while. Development of such traffic is currently blocked by the law, which does not allow for commercial passenger operations on single-engine aircraft.

SpiceJet and Zoom Air both see a potential for seaplane operations particularly in West Bengal state, but before this can happen the law needs to be revised. Modi's flight could be a boost for these changes.

Seaplanes could improve connectivity to the Sunderbans, Gangasagar and Murshidabad in West Bengal, boosting tourism in these areas, the Financial Express noted.

SpiceJet concluded a six-month trial period of its Quest Kodiak seaplane operations in mid-December. The airline's CEO Ajay Singh told reporters at that time that the airline intends to launch scheduled services to underserved regions in India within twelve months using such aircraft. The tests have been conducted in cooperation with Setouchi Holdings, a Japanese company which since 2015 has owned Quest Aircraft (Sandpoint), and with which SpiceJet signed a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the purchase of at least a hundred Kodiaks. The company also mulls setting up a seaplane assembly plant in West Bengal.