River taxis are run by using seaplanes. First lets see what is a seaplane.
A seaplane is a powered fixed-wing aircraft capable of taking off and landing on water. Seaplanes that can also take off and land on airfields are in a subclass called amphibian aircraft.
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Seaplanes are quite popular in the western world for tourism to the remote areas. They are also environmentally sustainable as they do not have any requirement of any airfield to be built. Some of the popular companies which operate sea planes are Harbour Air Seaplanes in Canada, Loch Lomond Seaplanes in Scotland etc.
Back home when I saw the report of Karnataka government’s plan to start sea planes it was like a spark of excitement. For travellers like me it is another adventure of joy. It will be a an experience! But at the same time it will make travel related to tourism much faster and easier. Karnataka has a lot of water bodies which can be aptly used in this purpose. Flying water taxis seems to be a planned collaboration between the tourism department and Major irrigation department of Karnataka.
Now lets take an example. The distance between Mysore and Coorg is around 107 km and it is covered in around 2 – 2.5 hrs. If a seaplane takes off from KRS dam reservoir and lands on Harangi dam reservior, the same can be covered within 30 minutes of flying. The report says Harangi, Kabini, Thungabhadra, Alamatti and Narayanapura (Basava Sagara) reservoirs are on the list. Also, if amphibian planes are deployed which can land both on land and water then tourism related air travel to Bangalore and Mysore can also be introduced. Planes can take off from KRS dam reservoir and land at Jakkur airstrip or HAL airport. This has the potential to promote air tourism and help people who want to save time while travelling to Mysore.
The government is preparing a project report and looks like atleast 2 years away if the plan is approved. They are also talking about river cruise but I doubt the viability of river cruise in Karnataka. Rivers here are quite shallow and changes depth quite frequently. The hilly rivers are more suited for rafting than a cruise.
Karnataka’s plan of water taxi is not the first of its kind in India. As neighboring Maharashtra has such a service run by Mehair. As of now Maritime Energy Heli Air Services Pvt Ltd (Mehair), has service from Mumbai’s Juhu airport to Aamby Valley, Shiridi and Lonavala. One can book the service by visiting http://hummingbird-ind.in/. At present the cost seems to be little prohibitive. Mostly people will go for experience and adventure. But if they can rationalize the pricing by attracting move passengers then this would open a new exciting mode of travel and tourism.