Saturday, June 21, 2014

Seaplane plan takes off

Plans for a commuter seaplane to operate between Hobart and Launceston have been labelled a ``fantastic idea'' by Launceston's Mayor Albert Van Zetten and a city entrepreneur.

Tasmanian Air Adventures announced this week that it was looking to invest in a 12-seat float plane, aimed at providing a commuter service to regional areas in Tasmania.

It hopes to provide a service between Hobart's waterfront and Launceston's Seaport for $200 return, as well as other services to Strahan and World Heritage Areas in the South-West.

TAA director of operations Tim Robertson said the $1 million to $1.5 million project was still in its early stage, but could be operating by summer if there was enough support.

``If we get the numbers and get the appropriate amount of support, we could very well see a regular service [between Launceston and Hobart],'' Mr Robertson said.

He said a trip from Hobart to Launceston could take between 25 minutes and an hour, depending on routes.

``We're focusing on infrastructure we're building in Hobart at the moment,'' he said.

``But one of the great things about the seaplane is it doesn't need any infrastructure at the end.''

The only infrastructure it needs to land is a dock, which is already in place at Seaport's Home Point.

The dock was used regularly more than a decade ago when Terry Mulholland operated Tamar Seaplanes from 1997.

Launceston developer Errol Stewart, who is developing the $20 million silos hotel on North Bank, said the idea was fantastic.

``Whether it came into the silos or the Seaport, there'd be plenty of spots for it,'' he said.

``You're getting right into the heart of the city and the same with Hobart.

``If you go to a place like Vancouver in Canada, seaplanes come in and out like buses.

``You have to get people using it of course, but I think it's great.''

Alderman van Zetten welcomed the idea saying it would be great for business people to travel quickly between cities.

The project is an expansion on what TAA already does and is a way to open up remote areas of the state.

The company hopes to know more about costs and whether it can operate the service this summer, by September.


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