GTDC chairman Nilesh Cabral said, “They selected a new operator, Supreme Transport Organisation Pvt Ltd, to operate the service but it is not in a position to start flying for want of a pilot that meets Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) guidelines.”
“The operator has the plane but there is no pilot with the required flying hours,” said Cabral adding the crux of the problem is that there is no seaplane service anywhere in India. So pilots with 500 hours of flying hours are not available.
The option available is hiring services of pilots from other countries but they demand salary of Rs 2 to 3 lakh. “Our operation will not be economically viable if we pay that high salaries to the pilots,” said Cabral. He said he would request chief minister Manohar Parrikar to intervene and get DGCA to give some relaxation to Goa.
“If need be, I will also write to PM Narendra Modi since Goa is the first state in the country to launch seaplane service,” said Cabral.
A few months ago, GTDC through fresh bidding process chose Supreme Transport Organization Pvt Ltd, after the earlier operator was unable to start the service, despite of having both pilot and co-pilot. It was unable to execute the agreement.
DGCA guidelines say a co-pilot should have a minimum experience of 125 hours flying hours. “The pilot engaged by the earlier operator got married and settled abroad. We can’t hire her,” said Cabral.
GTDC has been struggling for the past year in getting various permissions to start its amphibious bus service, even as permissions from local authorities were obtained. With it being the first such service in the country, an approval of the Union ministry of road and surface transport is also required. The specially designed amphibious buses, manufactured locally, are lying unused after its soft launch more than a year ago. The amphibious buses were introduced to showcase tourist hinterlands of Goa.