The Greek government on Monday unveiled plans for a network of water airports designed to improve transport links to Greece ΄s remote islands and regions. Shipping and Aegean Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis, with Deputy Transport, Infrastructure and Networks Minister Mihalis Papadopoulos, presented the plan in a joint press conference, AMNA reported.
“The implementation of water airports and the arrival of hydroplanes creates a new market for tourism, transport and the islands policy,” Varvitsiotis said. He pointed to the seaplanes΄ potential to boost islands΄ growth and create new jobs, as well as the development of Greek ports and harbors, while facilitating access to the mainland destinations that were hard to reach for both locals and tourists.
Papadopoulos noted in statements to the ANA-MPA that the water airport network, implemented in collaboration with the ministries΄ involved, was a good solution for transport links to Greece΄s many coastal and island regions and a lever for growth for Greek islands, bringing multiple benefits.
The first attempt to establish a seaplane network in Greece started in 2005, 15 licenses for water airports throughout the country were issued under new laws and a pilot programme had begun in the Ionian Sea. Seaplane companies pulled out by 2008, however, citing problems with the legislative framework and the lack of a seaplane link to Attica and Athens.
The legislative framework was updated in a bill passed by Parliament last April, under which a license to operate a water airport can be issued within 65 days of submitting a technical dossier to the transport and networks ministry and the shipping and Aegean ministry.
Applications have now been submitted on behalf of several ports and harbor funds, including those of Corfu, Patras, Lavrio, Iraklio, Volos, Skyros, Rethymno and Zakynthos. Once permits are given, the port and harbor authorities can then lease the right to operate the water airport to seaplane companies, via a process of tender.
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