Thursday 25.04.2024 ΚΕΡΚΥΡΑ

First seaplane flights in Greece to commence from Corfu

hydroplanes
14 Feb 2024 / 14:32

CORFU. The seaplane flights will ensure smooth transportation for the permanent residents of the Diapontia Islands and Paxos to Corfu on a 12-month basis.

The first seaplane flights in Greece are expected to commence from Corfu ust before Easter. The project, which has encountered many obstacles and delays, is finally set to take off, with Paxos and the Diapontia Islands as its initial destinations.

Approximately 15 years after the last seaplane flight to Corfu, the procedures are in the final stages for the project to become a reality. Already, the first seaplane of Hellenic Seaplanes is in Greece, specifically in Megara, and in March, the relevant licence from the Civil Aviation Authority is expected to be issued for commercial flights on a daily basis.

The President and CEO of Hellenic Seaplanes, Nikolas Charalambous, told Enimerosi that demo flights in Corfu are expected to take place in mid-April, with commercial flights starting towards the end of the month. Initially, the flights will be operated using a passenger seaplane Cessna Caravan 208C, which can accommodate up to 12 passengers per route, while two more seaplanes, with capacities of 8 and 19 passengers, are expected to arrive during the summer. According to Mr. Charalambous, ticket prices are linked to the duration of the flight. For a half-hour flight, the cost will be between 75-80 Euros.

12-month operation

Commercial flights will operate on a 12-month basis, which is considered by industry insiders to have a strong social impact. This is because, as they say, seaplane flights will ensure smooth transportation for the permanent residents of the Diapontia Islands and Paxos to Corfu throughout the year and gradually to other regional centres like Igoumenitsa, Ioannina and Patras, where hospitals, government services, and commercial markets operate.

Cruises and sightseeing flights

In the company's business plan, beyond the daily scheduled flights to the neighbouring Ionian islands, there is also the possibility of ad hoc charter flights, i.e., renting the entire seaplane for private transportation, as well as sightseeing flights over local or neighbouring attractions. Additionally, for the seaplane company, creating special sightseeing packages for cruise tourists holds strategic importance. Indeed, Hellenic Seaplanes is already in advanced talks with tourism and maritime companies to jointly organise aerial entertainment activities exclusively for cruise passengers, including tours and guidance over the attractions of Corfu, Paxos, Antipaxos, and the Diapontia Islands.

 

Waterdromes in the Ionian Islands

Currently, the only licensed waterdromes in the Ionian Islands are those of Corfu and Paxos, while recently licences were granted for three waterfields in Othoni, Erikoussa, and Mathraki. Mr. Charalambous estimates that it is possible that similar licences will be issued for waterfields in Lefkada, Meganisi, Ithaca, Cephalonia, and Zakynthos by summer, allowing aerial operations to develop until the licensing process for waterdromes on these islands, including the Diapontia islands, is completed. Moreover, according to information received from the new Regional Governor, Yiannis Trepeklis, the Ionian Islands Regional Authority is moving towards developing a comprehensive network in the Ionian.

In Corfu, the company Hellenic Water Airports and Corfu Port Authority have established the joint venture "Northern Ionian Waterdromes," with the statutory purpose of operating waterdromes in Corfu, Paxos, and the three Diapontia Islands. As their representative, Tasos Govas, told Enimerosi, the waterdomes in Corfu and Paxos are ready to operate, while licences are expected for those in the Diapontia Islands. However, he clarified that the three remote islands now have waterfields, meaning that according to the law, up to six flight pairs can be conducted at each. There is, however, no restriction on the number of flights at waterdromes.

MARIA BAZDRIYIANNI

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