Indian low-cost carrier SpiceJet is exploring the possibility of obtaining Quest Kodiak single-engine turboprop aircraft, as part of its effort to enhance regional connectivity.
The carrier has held talks with Japan's Setouchu Holdings, which owns Quest, about operating the aircraft as an amphibian, able to operate both from runways and water.
The carrier has seen local demonstrations of the type from airstrips, and is due to receive a demonstration of the type's amphibious capabilities.
“While India is acknowledged as one of the world’s fastest growing markets, the ground reality remains that only about 3% of Indians travel by air," says SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh.
"Infrastructural challenges have been a key deterrent for providing air connectivity to smaller towns and cities. We are extremely delighted to join hands with Setouchu Holdings and look forward to exploring new opportunities that will help us serve our country better.”
Singh adds, however, that the passenger segment that would be served by the Kodiak's is not likely to be able to pay high fares. Therefore government support would be necessary to make Kodiak services work.
According to Quest's website, the Kodiak can carry a maximum of 10 occupants including the pilot. It can take off with just 934ft of runway, and has a range of 1,132nm. It is powered by a single Pratt & Whitney Canada PT-6A turboprop.
Idaho-based Quest was established in 2001 with backing from 14 missionary and humanitarian organisations requiring new utility aircraft to access short airstrips in rugged and remote regions. It formally launched the 10-seat Kodiak in 2005, secured US certification in May 2007 and began deliveries at the end of that year.
Setouchu acquired Idaho-based Quest in 2015.
Flight Fleets Analyzer shows that SpiceJet operates 29 Boeing 737-800s, four 737-900ERs, and 20 Bombardier Q400 turboprops.