|Europe’s first commercial seaplane service to launch from Split|
Europe’s first scheduled and commercial seaplane service, European Coastal Airlines (ECA), is set to launch flights in two weeks time from the Croatian coast. The airline will operate both domestic and international flights with its fleet of DeHavilland DHC-6 and the Grumman G-21 Goose aircraft. ECA CEO, Klaus Dieter Martin, has said the airline’s inaugural service will take place in mid-August from Split Airport to the resort town of Jelsa on the island of Hvar. Journey time is estimated at only thirteen minutes. The new airline will also operate flights from Pula, Zagreb, Split Airport, Zadar Airport, Jelsa and the island of Rab, while its first international service will be a 66-minute hop from Jelsa to Ancona Airport in Italy.
The official launch of the airline brings to an end a thirteen year old battle with bureaucracy and red tape. The airline is in the process of setting up sea ports at the abovementioned locations, with work at Jelsa starting a few days ago as well as in Resnik, close to Split Airport. ECA is expected to revolutionise coastal travel in Croatia. The 66-minute flight to Ancona will substitute a nine hour overnight ferry from Split to the city on Italy’s eastern coast. Furthermore, the thirteen minute flight between Split and Jelsa will serve as an alternative to the two hour ferry ride. Ticket sales are expected to begin within days with prices between Split Airport and Jelsa tipped to be some forty euros.
|Inside ECA aircraft|
ECA’s CEO recently said, “Initially we will connect Split Airport with Jelsa/Hvar 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, such as Lastovo, Rijeka, Dubrovnik, Korčula, Mljet and many more. We are receiving frequent requests from authorities directly to fly to their locations and we will develop the destination network accordingly". The DHC-6 has the capacity to seat nineteen passengers while the Goose can seat seven passengers. Both aircraft, registered in Croatia, have been parked at various airports across the country for over a decade in anticipation of the airline's launch. They can land both on water and paved runways.