By Avril-Ann Braganza
The recently launched seaplane will give pilgrims to Shirdi, Shani Singlapur and Meherabad a much quicker ride
It’s not even a month since Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt. Ltd. (MEHAIR) and Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) launched their seaplane services in Maharashtra between Mumbai and Pawana (Lonavala), but they’re already ready with services to their next destination. Starting 19th September, the seaplane will take off from Mumbai’s Juhu Airport for a 45-minute flight to Mula Dam, where it will land opposite Chumeri Guesthouse. People will disembark on a securely anchored floating dock approximately 30 m from the shoreline. From the dock they will be whisked away to the shore by a motorboat.
Located between the religious destinations of Meherabad, Shirdi and Shani Shinglapur, there will be one flight a day and two flights on Thursdays at 8 30 am and 2 00 pm respectively, with quick turnarounds. “We decided to have two flights on Thursdays, because that’s when most devotees travel to Shirdi for darshan. We plan to observe operations for a couple of months and will then decide whether to increase the frequency or change the timings. Depending on the response, we will also plan return flights for the same day with a later departure schedule,” says Siddharth Verma, Co-Founder and Director of MEHAIR.
While passengers can avail of the inaugural price at ₹5,499 per person for a one-way journey till mid October, the cost of tickets is yet to be decided, but Siddharth promises that “it won’t pinch your pockets”.
For the initial services, the Cessna 208 Amphibian, nine-seater aircraft will be used and will be operated by a pilot and co-pilot. After check-in, passengers must watch a safety video and will be given a safety briefing, highlighting the importance of seatbelts and life vests. The Cessna 206 Amphibian, four-seater aircraft will be used for charter flights to transport small families and groups at a later date.
Besides Pawana and Mula dam, MEHAIR is also poised to launch services to Gangapur Dam in Nashik and Dhoom Dam in Mahabaleshwar (Satara district) in early October