A stalled network of seaplanes that would facilitate travel and transportation between the Greek islands is a top priority for the government, which is currently re-examining the framework of operation and planning to make amendments to it in fall.
Following a public consultation period in September, Deputy Infrastructure and Transport Minister Yiannis Kefalogiannis is expected to proceed with changes to the existing regulatory framework including issuing licenses for the creation of waterway hubs to ports up for privatization, marinas and luxury tourism complexes.
The revised bill is expected to be tabled in parliament in October.
“The transport ministry is moving rapidly to improve the institutional framework with a view to launching a significant number of waterways as soon as possible, especially in the coming summer tourist season of 2020,” said Kefalogiannis after meeting with Nicolas Charalambous, chairman, CEO and founder of Greek waterways company Hellenic Seaplanes – the strategic investor.
“We are taking concrete steps to support this investment initiative, contributing substantially to the creation of the first sustainable waterways network and shaping a new development landscape in the country,” the minister added.
Other changes being considered include simplifying the licensing procedure, which currently involves going through at least 40 steps before final approval.
The current government is claiming that their predecessors had failed to speed up the licensing process while at the same time allowing the establishment of waterways only by public bodies, which left out two of the country’s biggest ports – those of Piraeus and Thessaloniki.
Hellenic Seaplanes Optimistic
Earlier on Tuesday, Kefalogiannis met with Hellenic Seaplanes CEO to discuss ways to move ahead with the project.
Hellenic Seaways announced in 2017 that it had secured 250 million euros in financial backing from Petrichor Capital Partners to go towards the project.
Key to ensuring the project enters the implementation phase is a clear and transparent regulatory framework, speedy procedures, and a friendlier investor environment, which according to insiders will be in place by the end of August.
Hellenic Seaplanes is hoping all the infrastructure will be completed by 2020 ahead of the new tourism season.
Besides stressing the importance of a seaplane network in Greece, contributing to both its economy and to the creation of jobs, Charalambous underlined that it would also “contribute to the interconnection and development of local communities, taking remote islands where airports cannot be built and transport is difficult, especially during the winter season, out of isolation”.