How many years will it be before seaplanes start flying in Greece? The answer is difficult. Since 2009 for all governments the return of amphibious aircraft, which can shrink the time needed to travel from Patra to Ioannina to about half an hour, has been a priority.
In 2009, Greek-Canadian Michael Patellis’ AirSea Lines was forced to stop flights after four years of activity, which caused financial losses. Since then, seaplanes have flown only once again, in the summer of 2013, from Brindisi to Corfu. After this pilot flight in the context of a European co-financed project, it seemed certain that seaplanes – at least in the Ionian Sea – would return in 2014. Those expectations are constantly shifting, with the new time line now set, possibly for this year’s summer season, if not for the summer of 2024. So what has been keeping water aircraft out of the air?
“When we decided to undertake the licensing process for 28 waterways on 26 islands of the South Aegean, we could not imagine how difficult it would be. We were faced with presidential decrees, according to which no permanent construction of any kind is allowed in a port. In other cases, royal decrees forbid the creation of a gazebo on the pier of a watercourse in the Cyclades. In some cases the legislation also had to be changed,” Regional Governor of the South Aegean Giorgos Hatzimarkos notes to Kathimerini.
He adds that “the process has been simplified. Within 2023 we will submit the files to secure an establishment license for more than 30 waterways, including three for which the procedures have been advanced by the municipalities, and a compact network will be created with over 700 possible routes. But this year it will be difficult to have flights,” he admits.
For his part, Deputy Minister for Infrastructure Michalis Papadopoulos is categorical, having completed the licensing of the first waterways in Corfu and Paxos in 2014: “We have created a complete legislative framework, having also instituted the temporary licensing process. Flights can start as long as there is investor interest,” he states, with Grecian Air Seaplanes and Hellenic Seaplanes still making their plans.