The operation of the first waterway network in Greece, set to link the Ionian islands, has been deferred to 2021 due to the effects on tourism of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, according to key project investor Water Airports SA.
“By the looks of things, seaplanes will not be flying over the Ionian Sea as the licencing of waterway projects on the Ionian Islands will not have been completed in time, apart from those on Corfu and Paxi,” Water Airports SA Founder and Managing Director President Tasos Govas told the Athens News Agency (ANA) on Monday.
He underlined, however, that the waterway network is important now more than ever, particularly for transport to remote tourist destinations but also to assist in the transfer of patients to hospitals.
Govas said he believes Greece will be among the world’s leading tourist destinations after the coronavirus health crisis subsides as long as the industry is quick to resumes activity and return to normalcy.
According to the new timetable, the network is set to be operational in 2021 and will most likely be equipped with a fleet of Seastar Dorniers, Twin-Otters, and single-engine planes, Govas informed.
“The country’s seaplane network may have been significantly delayed, but the emergence of new types of seaplanes with different characteristics will cover more targeted transport needs,” said Govas, adding that planes employed will depend on transport needs such as regular itineraries, VIP flights, hospital transport etc.
Earlier this year, the government tabled a draft law foreseeing the establishment of waterways in Greece, simplifying licensing procedures for the establishment and operation of waterways and introducing other provisions including granting permits to private entities and establishing a committee for waterway inspections as well as a 10-euro waterway operation surcharge per passenger.