AirSea Lines officially suspended its programmed flights from Lavrio seadrome to islands in the Aegean but it said it would continue flights as planned for the Ionian islands and Brindisi, Italy, from Patra.
Greece’s seaplane operator said it was unable to continue the routes to the Aegean due to an inability to comply with the increased demands of the project. The company anticipated receiving two more hydroplanes in order to cover the Aegean but has not received them as yet.
The delay is the result of newly created European Aviation Safety Agency regulations which require enhanced avionics equipment to be installed in the aircraft that were not necessary until recently. Consequently there has been a significant delay in the arrival date.
In addition, there is no technical base for the maintenance of the hydroplanes in the Aegean, as there is on Corfu, which further enhanced the need to suspend the routes to the Aegean.
AirSea Lines confirmed it will fully refund passengers booked on flights to the Aegean and the company hopes to be able to offer alternative destinations to passengers who still wish to travel. AirSea Lines asserts that the suspension of the flights to the Aegean is in no way connected to the legal battle between the company and Olympic Airlines.
Seaplane operations are expected to increase in the near future thanks to the creation of two new seadromes in the Sporades islands, specifically in Alonissos and Skopelos, which has been officially confirmed by minister of merchant marine, Manolis Kefaloyiannis.
As well, with the prospect of an additional 40 new hydroplanes in Greece in the next few years the ministry has also asked for approval to create seadromes in 36 areas of Greece that include Anafi, Antikythira, Donousa, Psatha, Oinousses and several locations in Crete such as Rethymnon, Chania and Sitia.
Until 2004 there was no legal foundation for the operation of seadromes in Greece or controversy over jurisdiction. Regulations came into effect with law 3333/2005 that provided the basic guidelines for the creation and function of seadromes.
The delay in the creation of seadromes in Greece is part and parcel of the dispute over what legal criteria the company adheres to–air or sea regulations–as the recent legal battle between the company and Olympic Airlines has indicated.