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Greek seaplanes set for take off

- by Jeremy Guest

'Greek island hopping made easy with seaplanes'.

The days of Greek island hopping on fast seaplanes rather than slow ferries draws ever closer. Seaplane companies are lining up to grab a slice of the action after the Greek government relaxed its rules on issuing licences for seaplane island hopping services in Greece.

The Greek company Hellenic Seaplanes has now published mock-up designs of a new waterway launch pad for the holiday island of Kos along with a list of services that could be offered once seaplane services are up and running.

Hellenic Seaplanes plans to operate scheduled flights from several Greek islands as well as mainland ports and lakes where current transport links are difficult.

The company will launch tourist tours over the Greek islands and sites in combination with a variety of excursion packages with tickets sold directly through its website or through travel agents.

It also plans to operate chartered flights for up to 19 passengers and to transfer passengers from any official waterway to any desired resort where seaplane landing and takeoff facilities are available.

On top of that are plans for cargo flights through either scheduled or chartered services and seaplanes will have the potential to fly sick patients from more remote Greek islands to hospitals.

Hellenic Seaways has already signed a deal with the Athens Ambulance company for patient transfers between the Greek islands, ports and lakes where they have appropriate facilities.

Hellenic Seaplanes has initially planned to create waterways seaplane links between mainland Greece and the Greek islands and develop new destinations through safe and fast seaplane routes.

Now the company's primary target is to develop and create the waterways landing and taking off areas to support seaplane services.

Talks have been under way with some 200 municipalities and port authorities throughout Greece and the Greek islands where seaplane services could be accommodated at suitable ports.

As money is tight in the current financial climate and island municipalities are struggling to meet the cost the company has announced that it will carry the costs of designing and building a large number of waterways itself.

Hellenic Seaplanes hopes to have at least 100 waterways in place in Greece by the end of 2013 and another 100 built in 2014.