As part of its support for India’s UDAN (Ude Desh Ka Aam Naagrik, or “Let Every Person Fly”) aviation expansion program, SpiceJet has reached out to Japan’s Setouchi Holdings, exploring a deal for about 100 Quest Kodiak amphibious floatplanes. Since 2015, Setouchi has owned Sandpoint, Idaho-based Quest, manufacturer of the 10- to 14-passenger turboprop single.
SpiceJet hopes for financial support for the $400 million deal from India’s Prime Minister Narendara Modi and his aggressive plans for connecting the nation’s vast population by air, despite limited infrastructure. Very few of India's 450 airports can accommodate jet airliners.
According to SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh, “Only about 3 percent of Indians travel by air. Infrastructure challenges have been a key deterrent in providing air connectivity to smaller towns and cities.” With its ability to operate from unimproved runways—and waterways—the Kodiak could provide the feeder role Singh hopes will stimulate further expansion of air travel in the country.
“We have already executed landplane demonstrations in Nagpur and Giuwahati,” said Dr. Go Okazaki, executive managing director of Setouchi Holdings. “As a next step, we would also like to go for seaplane demonstrations, soon.” There are currently about 220 Quest Kodiaks flying worldwide in a variety of roles, including utility cargo transports, skydiving and executive passenger service. Equipped with Aerocet carbon-fiber amphibious floats, a $400,000 option, the turboprop has the potential to further expand India’s aviation infrastructure.
SpiceJet has demonstrated its commitment to the UDAN concept, launching three new routes to remote areas in the past three months, with plans for more. Singh hopes for government support for his plan to add Kodiaks to the program, He said, “Small aircraft connectivity may have passengers paying lower fares than needed [to cover costs], and hence we need support of the government of India. We hope that with these demonstrations, we would be able to impress upon the government our willingness to go ahead with this project and have their support, too.”