All the identified 20 sites are freshwater bodies - either a multipurpose dam or a perennial river.
Chilka in Odisha, Asia's largest brackish water lake was identified as one of the first destinations for development of water aerodrome. The low-cost carrier SpiceJet Ltd intended to start seaplane operations in Odisha, connecting Bhubaneswar with key tourist destinations like Chilika lake, the Chandipur sea beach and Hirakud Dam. But the project at Chilika, which is an eco-sensitive zone, was later dropped following stiff opposition from the environmentalists.
Water aerodromes are expected to overcome bottlenecks in regions of the state not connected by air transport due to lack of runway based airport. An alternative mode of air transport is expected to beat the lacuna and facilitate air travel in the cut off regions.
"The challenge in India is that we can always use water aircraft for non-scheduled operations. To become a scheduled commercial operator, twin-engine aircraft are required. The DGCA (Director General of Civil Aviation) is bringing out the appropriate regulations," said Guruprasad Mohapatra, chairman of AAI at the recently held Make in Odisha conclave.
In the third round, bidding of Regional Connectivity Scheme (also known as UDAN) is covering the development of water aerodromes in India. The scheme offers sops for development of such aerodromes on water bodies.
AAI has listed 10 locations for starting of water aerodromes. The identified locations offered for bidding include Statue of Unity, Sardar Sarovar Dam, Sabarmati River Front, Ahmedabad, Dharoj Dam Gujarat and Shatrunjay Dam in Gujarat, two locations each in Assam and Maharashtra. Similarly, Tehri Dam in Uttarakhand and Nagarjuna Sagar in Telangana have also been offered to bidders for bidding under phase three round of UDAN.
Budget carrier SpiceJet is learnt to have plans to buy 100 amphibian aircraft at an estimated cost of $400 million.