By F. Zois
A decades-old initiative to commence regular seaplane routes in Greece, which boasts scores of inhabited islands and number coastal sites without a nearby commercial airport, may materialize in 2019, 15 years after efforts began in earnest.
The prospect of seaplane routes in the country has been plagued by ubiquitous modern Greece bureaucracy at every step, an up-until-now absent regulatory framework, concerns over economic viability - such aircraft cannot carry many passengers - and even local opposition, in some cases.
Destinations in the Ionian Sea, off the western coast of mainland Greece, are expected to commence next May, with the popular holiday island of Corfu (which has a regular commercial airport) eyed as the hub.
The development comes after the relevant transport ministry finally tabled a draft law in Parliament establishing the framework for seaplane routes, more than a year and a half after public debate on the legislation was concluded.
Two companies are active in the nascent seaplane sector in Greece, Greek Water Airports and Hellenic Seaplanes, with both entities claiming to have attracted outside investment for future operations.
In a related development, the Greek ministry has promised to translate the draft bill into Bulgarian, Romanian and Serbian, in a bid to create a future Balkan network of seaplane routes.