Next month the new means of transportation across the Aegean Sea, hydroplanes, are setting course for the island of Patmos, in addition to their numerous daily destinations. The first flights conducted by AirSea Lines were on May 16 from Lavrion to the Aegean Islands and the company intends to expand its services to more islands. The recent signing by the ministers for Merchant Marine and Transport for the creation of 26 new hydroports seems to be accelerating the expansion of hydroplane flights. The average time before the new hydroports begin operatation is about two months from now, depending on the peculiarities of each area. AirSea Lines attributes particular significance to the islands that do not have airports, as those which depend only on coastal shipping are expected to show greater demand for hydroplanes. Patmos residents and local authorities have already shown great enthusiasm as they often have problems traveling to and from the island. The lack of an airport and the peculiarities of Patmos have put it high on the company’s priority list, so by the end of July AirSea Lines should have started its flight to the small island in the Dodecanese, nearby Rhodes. Next on the list will be the Cycladic islands of Tinos and Amorgos. The modification of the license the company has been allocated paved the way for the expansion of AirSea Lines’ activity, as it allows it to make more flights. The company can now perform nine flights from Lavrion, up from three previously, and five from Patras (starting its regular schedule on July 15) up from three before the modification. The Council of State is currently studying the presidential decree that will determine the legislative framework under which hydroports will operate. This is expected to simplify the licensing process for companies interested. More companies At this stage it is only AirSea Lines that makes regular hydroplane flights but, according to sources, interest has also been expressed by two more companies. The first intends to fly from Thessaloniki to Halkidiki, Mount Athos, Lemnos, Mytilene, Chios and the islands of eastern Aegean, while the second wishes to fly from Lavrion to Patras, Kalamata and Gythion. At present, AirSea Lines performs flights with only one hydroplane, but from July 10 it will add a second – currently in Switzerland for heavy maintenance – to its daily schedule. By end-July it is expecting the delivery of a third hydroplane, with a fourth coming in early August. Weather conditions do not really affect hydroplanes, since wind is no problem for them, but choppy seas do matter, as it has to be calm enough to allow a safe landing on sea. However, on June 17 all flights were canceled due to technical problems with the company’s sole hydroplane. There was a gradual return to a normal schedule on the following day, when flights were made with two-hour delays. The cost of flying by hydroplane ranges from 40 to 120 euros, depending on the length of the route. Among the flights conducted already are those from Lavrion to Myconos and Paros (75 euros), to Ios and Santorini (90 euros) and to Kalymnos (120 euros). The duration of the flight should not exceed 35 minutes, mainly due to the peculiar nature of the aircraft, which have a capacity of 19 passengers but no toilets. The height at which hydroplanes usually fly ranges from 500 to 1,000 feet, «so that passengers can have full vision and enjoy the route above the sea,« as Michael Patellis, the director of AirSea Lines, told Kathimerini. However, the average level of flight for hydroplanes is 3,000 feet.