Shenzhen to launch seaplane service as HK delays approval
Hong Kong-based WaterfrontAir, which originally planned to operate a seaplane service between the city and Macau, will launch seaplane flights from Shenzhen to Macau and Guangzhou in the fourth quarter of this year.
WaterfrontAir and Shenzhen Airport Ferry Terminal Services Company, a subsidiary of the Shenzhen Airport Company, yesterday signed a memorandum of understanding to provide seaplane services from the Shenzhen Airport ferry pier to neighbouring cities in the Pearl River Delta.
WaterfrontAir, which will have its headquarters in Shenzhen, hopes to launch seaplane services from Hong Kong to Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macau next year. The company will start with seaplane flights from the special economic zone to Macau and Guangzhou.
The firm, set up by entrepreneurs Michael Agopsowicz of Canada and Peter de Kantzow of Australia, will lease a fleet of 18-seater DHC-6 Twin Otter floatplanes for the flights.
WaterfrontAir has been pressing ahead since last year with the plan to operate a scheduled seaplane service between a new Kai Tak waterfront aerodrome and the Pak On ferry terminal near Macau's Cotai Strip.
The Tourism Commission and the Tourism Board have given their backing for the proposal, saying it will enhance Hong Kong's appeal. But the project needs to pass an assessment of its environmental impact.
Scheduled seaplane services operated between Hong Kong and Macau between the 1930s and 1950s.
'It takes a long time to get approval for launching seaplane flights in Hong Kong, and we have decided to start our operations in Shenzhen as the city happened to be a lot faster in granting the green light,' Agopsowicz said.
The company intends to commission an environmental impact assessment and a noise impact assessment in the first half of the year.
'If things proceed smoothly, we expect to launch seaplane flights between Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and Macau next year,' said de Kantzow, the son of Cathay Pacific co-founder Sydney de Kantzow, who also set up Macau Air Transport Company in 1948.
The flight from Hong Kong to Shenzhen will take 15 minutes, compared with 45 minutes for the Hong Kong to Guangzhou trip. The flight from Hong Kong to Macau would take 20 minutes.
The firm plans to charge about HK$2,800 for a one-way trip between Hong Kong and Guangzhou.