Greek lawmakers unanimously approved on Thursday, a draft proposal covering the establishment, operation and management of waterway projects, paving the way for the operation of seaplane flights as early as 2020.
“The bill comes to correct past mistakes,” said Infrastructure Minister Kostas Karamanlis, adding that it lays the groundwork for the development of a viable waterway network and addresses a number of passenger transport problems with respect for professionals and the public.
“We have set the regulatory framework allowing the market operate. We are simplifying and speeding up procedures,” he said, adding that the Dodecanese and Ionian Islands are ideal for the development of a seaplane network.
Karamanlis went on to note that the law outlines the procedures necessary for the creation, operation, and management of waterway units, now requiring only two licenses. At the same time, both private and public entities will be able to establish a waterway, he said.
“Waterways don’t only have to be publicly run. A private individual can come and set up a waterway,” Karamanlis said, adding that Greece must put into place good practices adapted in other countries.
Besides simplifying licensing procedures and granting permits to private entities, the bill – which went up for public consultation last month – also foresees the establishment of a committee for waterway inspections as well as a waterway operation surcharge per passenger. It also sanctions granting waterway permits to tourist ports (marinas, shelters and berths), to areas of “integrated tourism development”, and to complex-style tourist accommodation facilities.
“We are enabling seaplanes to do what they are meant to do… to travel everywhere without the state imposing on companies specific areas,” the minister said, adding that entrepreneurs owning tourist accommodation facilities will now be able to apply for and operate a waterway.