Sunday, April 22
One of the most romantic modes of air travel, which faded with the British Empire, is set to return as plans are made for a fleet of seaplanes that will fly to destinations across Britain.
AirSea Lines, which runs services in the Mediterranean and Canada, has unveiled plans to bring at least 10 aircraft to Britain during the next five years. The company has earmarked three areas around the country in which they will operate services. These are the Lake District, north Wales and London.
The company's president, said: "Seaplane transport is a hidden treasure for Britain. Water is a natural place to land and there are many places in the country that are well suited to them. They can be a real alternative to cars and trains as well as other forms of air travel. They are safer than helicopters and cheaper to operate. You can fit more passengers on board and they require very little extra infrastructure."
Flights from Cardiff to remote bays in north Wales and services in the Lake District will cater for tourists, while routes from London to lakes and waterways in southern England, are also intended to attract business and commuter use.
Flights from London to the Lakes are also possible from London's Docklands.
The company mainly uses the DeHavilland Twin Otter, a rugged and reliable aircraft developed for exploring northern Canada, which can carry 19 passengers and land on runways as well as on water. Production of the Twin Otter stopped in 1988, but restarted this month to meet the expected increase in demand over the next decade.
The company is in negotiations with Think London, a government-funded agency that encourages foreign companies to invest in the capital, as well as with the Welsh Assembly and Cumbria Vision, a company set up to encourage investment in the Lake District.
Moves to fly into the Lake District are likely to prove the most problematic. The company will have to secure permission from the Lake District National Park Authority, which has enforced a 10mph speed limit for boats on Windermere. Seaplanes travel at least six times that speed on landing and take-off . Now this idea really has a lot potential for boosting tourism round here.
Surely if these seaplanes aren't allowed to land on our nearby lakes for environmental reasons (as I'm sure the Friends of the Lake District will say) they could maybe land on one of our huge unused local docks. Now that would be something to see!