ATHENS – New New Democracy Development Minister Adonis Georgiadis said he believes that seaplanes will begin operation in Greece in the summer of 2020, taking tourists and riders to islands without airports and coastal destinations otherwise hard to reach.
He told SKAI TV that, “at this time next year we will be flying seaplanes – this is final … we will do whatever it takes,” to get them going. He said Greece is the ideal country for the use of seaplanes that not been allowed before to operate despite having thousands of islands, many without any ferry services.
“It would enable us to get to destinations that are extremely inaccessible today, with very little money and in a very short time,” he said. The new government is planning to cut the number of licenses required to begin operations and accelerating ministerial decisions, media reports said.
The planes would go destinations without airports, opening another key route of transport that could allow faster access to remote islands and for those willing to pay the price for the sky hopping routes.
Establishing permanent seaplanes routes in Greece has been going on for more than 20 years although there are thousands of islands, with many of the most popular requiring often lengthy ferry voyages to reach.
The first seaplane routes, if and when approved and launched, will be in Ionian Sea islands and on the western Greece mainland, said the business newspaper Naftemporiki earlier, with two Greece-based companies, Greek Water Airports – of which Aktor Facility Management holds a 55-percent stake – and Hellenic Seaplanes eager for the go-ahead.
Hellenic Seaplanes officials said they’ve already attracted private financing from domestic and foreign investors and Greek-Mexican aviation entrepreneur Ricardo Farias Nicolopulos (Bi-National Air, Air Choice One) has also said to be interested in getting into the sector.
Hellenic Seaplanes officials met with Georgiadis to discuss ways to get the routes going as a boost to tourism too, said GTP Headlines.
Hellenic Seaplanes Chairman and Managing Director Nicolas Charalambous presented the company’s development strategy for seaplanes, which, he said, has attracted the interest of domestic and foreign investors, according to the site.
Georgiadis said that the ministry is looking to eliminate any bureaucratic obstacles related to the creation of a waterways network in Greece and improve the current legal framework that is not “friendly” to private investments.
“As a ministry and as a government we support all investment initiatives in the seaplanes sector, which can become a development lever for Greece,” he said, adding that seaplane routes could boost island economies, create new jobs and make it easier to connect the mainland with destinations that lack convenient transportation means.
Charalambous added that seaplane routes are expected to expand the tourism market, as visitors will be able to visit even more islands – especially those that are small and isolated – during their stay in Greece, making vacation packages even more attractive, the report also added.