A 19-seater seaplane which will be used for flights between the Sabarmati riverfront and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s Statue of Unity in Gujarat as part of a first-of-its-kind service in the country arrived here from Maldives on Sunday.

The aircraft, which landed safely in Venduruthy channel for a transit halt, is scheduled to reach Ahmedabad, where the country’s maiden seaplane service will be launched between the Sabarmati riverfront and the Statue of Unity in Narmada district.

The service is likely to be launched on October 31 if all goes as per plans, Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya had told PTI.

The Twin Otter 300 seaplane leased by Spicejet will be able to accommodate 12 passengers.

“The seaplane was provided assistance with berthing facility at Naval jetty and refuelling for its onward journey,” a defence spokesperson said.

Seaplanes are a natural choice of connectivity between mainland and Lakshadweep islands. Inland water channels in Kochi and sheltered lagoons in islands offer an ideal space for the seaplanes to land and take-off, he said.

Representatives of Spicejet, Indian Navy, Cochin International Airport Limited and district administration were present to supervise the transit halt.

The crew of the seaplane were greeted by Vice Admiral A K Chawla, flag officer commanding-in-chief of Southern Naval Command.

He said the occasion refreshed fond memories of amphibious aircraft operations from Kochi naval base in the yesteryears.

Incidentally, the birth of Indian Naval Aviation was also preceded by a similar landing of sealand aircraft in the Venduruthy channel in Kochi on February 4, 1953.