|European Coastal Airline takes off with flights from Split|
Europe’s first modern scheduled and commercial seaplane service, Croatian-based European Coastal Airlines (ECA), has launched flights after receiving permits from aviation authorities. The official launch of the airline brings to an end a thirteen year old battle with bureaucracy and red tape. ECA inaugurated flights from Split Airport to the island of Jelsa yesterday. The service, which lasts only thirteen minutes, will significantly cut down on the existing two hour ferry ride. The four daily flights will operate with a Dash DHC-6-300 Twin Otter aircraft, which can land on both water and paved runways. In the coming days, flights from Pula, the island of Rab, as well as Zadar and Zagreb airports will be added to the network. Promotional tickets for the abovementioned routes are on sale and can be purchase through the airline’s website
Speaking to local media yesterday, ECA CEO, Captain Klaus Dieter Martin said, “This is a proud day for my entire team who have been working hard to accomplish what has been a long run to overcome bureaucracy - a marathon”. He added, “I am also very proud. We are looking forward to increase connectivity to the islands for tourists and Croatian citizens alike. This will really revitalise the islands and extend the season. If you can imagine, seventy years ago there were better connections to the islands with hydroplanes. This must change, and we are happy to play our part to make that change".
|Inside ECA aircraft|
The DHC-6 has the capacity to seat nineteen passengers. ECA also plans to launch international flights from Jelsa to Ancona in Italy. “Initially we will connect Split Airport with Jelsa at least four times daily. Jelsa will be connected directly with Ancona twice daily. The northern network will connect Zadar (initially Zadar Airport), Rab, Pula, Zagreb Airport and Ancona. As soon as possible we will add further destinations”, Mr. Martin said. ECA is expected to revolutionise coastal travel in Croatia.