An announcement by Grecian Air, an emerging seaplane operator in Greece, has sparked new hope for the debut of seaplane flights connecting islands to the mainland, after several years of anticipation caused by bureaucratic delays.
Local media report that the company is set to start with three 19-seater seaplanes in September 2021, initially flying from water airports in the Ionian Sea, western Greece.
Subsequently, it plans to gradually grow its fleet with a mix of owned and leased aircraft as additional water airports become licensed in the Cyclades, Crete, the Sporades and Dodecanese islands and other areas in the northern Aegean Sea.
The service should be able to operate regular commercial flights as well as those dedicated to charters, cargo, or medical assistance.
Greek seaplanes could boost tourism in Greece
Seaplane flights could become a fast and easy alternative for travel to and from Greece’s many islands, providing tourists and residents alike with more transport options.
Grecian Air’s announcement highlighted how Greece’s Polynesian-like geography with its famous 16,000-kilometer (9,942- mile) coastline makes the country an ideal place for seaplane service, which could improve access to many holiday resorts and poorly connected islands and thus further boost the domestic tourism industry.
A project of national significance, the Greek seaplane and water airport network development will not only improve tourist and transport infrastructure, though, but will also generate hundreds of new job openings.
The venture is reportedly financed by a German fund which invests in Grecian Air through the Axionair company.
With a cost of 7 million euros per aircraft and a vision to establish and operate water airports all across the country, the project will exceed 100 million euros in investment at its full deployment, Dimitris Babakos, one of the majority stakeholders of Axionair, stated to local media.
Fifteen years of bureaucratic delays
The first attempt to establish a seaplane flight network in Greece started back in 2005, when 15 licenses for water airports throughout the country were issued under new laws and a pilot program had begun in the Ionian Sea.
However, seaplane companies pulled out by 2008, citing problems with the legislative framework and the lack of a seaplane link to Attica and Athens.
In 2013, that framework was updated in a bill passed by Parliament, 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.
Tests for seaplane operations started in 2014 and the first test flights were reported to have been successfully completed two years later.
The commencement of seaplane flights in Greece has so far been announced for 2015, 2016, and 2019, but the reality of seaplane travel in Greece still hasn’t materialized well into 2021.