ECONOMY

Hydroplanes changing the face of transport

The hydroplanes of Airsea Lines will start flying from Athens to the Aegean islands on May 15, considerably improving the quality of life of the inhabitants of those islands. The company’s hub will be in Lavrion, eastern Attica, where the first hydroplane airport will operate, with a second one planned for Faliron. «Despite the bureaucratic obstacles we faced at the beginning, we are optimistic that we will manage to lease the area required for the construction of the terminal where passengers will check in and embark on the hydroplane,» company sources told Kathimerini. The first services will fly from Lavrion to the islands of Ios, Kalymnos, Myconos, Paros, Santorini and Kos. At the end of May the company said it will start its services in the Ionian Sea, linking Corfu with Paxoi, Ithaca, Lefkada, Patras, Cephalonia and the Italian city of Brindisi. Airsea Lines says fares will not be high. The ticket from Lavrion to Ios will cost -90, to Tinos -60, to Paros, Myconos and Santorini -75 and to Kalymnos -120. From Corfu fares will be -75 for Cephalonia, -65 for Ithaca, -55 for Lefkada, -90 for Patras, -40 for Paxoi and -100 for Brindisi in Italy. According to statements made by Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis in Parliament, the hydroplanes will also offer free tickets for comparatively unpopular islands such as Antikythera, Psara and Anafi, in the framework of the state’s social policy for the inhabitants of small islands. Initially the company will operate four hydroplanes and two amphibious planes manufactured in Canada. They will be of the DHC-6 Twin Otter type, able to carry 19 passengers. «We wish to thank Kefaloyiannis and (Transport Minister Michalis) Liapis for their substantial assistance which has helped us launch our activities in Greece,» the vice chairman of Airsea Lines, Anastasios Govas, told Kathimerini. 100-mln-euro investment In order to meet its growth plan targets on time, Airsea Lines has already ordered 36 new aircraft of the same type from the Canadian company Viking. Delivery of these aircraft is expected to start at the end of 2008. The purchase of the new aircraft and the construction of the necessary airports represents an investment of some 100 million euros. Airsea Lines officers said that a large part of that sum will be raised on the parallel market of the London Stock Exchange, where the firm’s Airsea Canada subsidiary will be listed this summer. The incorporation of hydroplanes, via the activities of this company, in the country’s transport system is a first for the whole of Europe, propelling Greece to the forefront of the development of a new means of transport whose main features are safety, speed (Kalymnos will be just an hour’s flight away) and accessibility to islands and areas where land airports are not possible.