Take-off for UK’s first seaplane airline

26 Nov 2006

Britain's first seaplane airline has been cleared for take off on the river Clyde in the centre of Glasgow. Plans to fly passengers direct to the Highlands and islands have been given the green light by the Civil Aviation Authority and the council to create Europe's only seaplane service operating from a city centre.

Loch Lomond Seaplanes, Britain's first commercial flying boat service for more than 50 years, will start regular flights in the New Year from a seaplane terminal close to Glasgow's Science Centre to destinations such as Arran, Bute, Oban and Tobermory to open up the west coast of Scotland.

The new services from Loch Lomond Seaplanes, which was started by awarded winning commercial airline pilot David West three years ago, will reduce hours of frustrating road travel between Glasgow and the remote areas of the Highlands to just minutes. "We want to open up the west coast with a raft of new destinations to be added over the next few months," said Captain West, 49, at the company's offices in Helensburgh, Dumbartonshire.

"I would really like to provide a regular service to Skye and possibly even Edinburgh - that would be a journey of little more than 15 minutes from the centre of Glasgow to the Water of Leith."

The company, which has been successfully operating charter flights out of Loch Lomond for the last three years, has been working closely with Glasgow City Council, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Clyde Port Authority to bring seaplanes back to the Clyde. "Glasgow City Council, Clyde Port and the CAA have provided us with exceptional support and shown great vision and innovation in creating a service which will help to make Glasgow a city with one of the best waterfronts in the world," said Captain West.

"This will put Glasgow and the west of Scotland in the same league as the Maldives, Vancouver, Seattle and Sydney".

The new service will mark a welcome return of seaplanes to the Clyde where almost 300 Short Sunderland flying boats were built at Dumbarton Rock during the Second World War. The last left the factory slipway of Blackburn Aircraft Works in 1945.

Councillor Steven Purcell, the Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "These are ambitious plans and I'm delighted that the Council has played such a key role in helping to get this project off the ground.

"These services will be great for tourism, business and those looking to link the Clyde with other Scottish waterways. We're witnessing massive regeneration of our river and to see the return of the classic seaplane, is another indication of the diverse ways in which we can develop tourism and commerce along the Clyde."

Seaplanes are a common sight in some of the world's most exotic conservation areas from the wilds of Alaska to Australia's Great Barrier Reef because of their ability to utilise both land and water without causing unnecessary damage to the environment.

In Canada and Alaska small float-planes are used almost like busses serving remote coastal communities and in Scotland, which has 6,200 miles of coastline with 750 major islands and 560 large fresh water lochs, the possibilities of replicating such a service are endless. "Scotland's geography and abundance of lochs offers a natural alternative transportation network" said Captain West.

"A versatile seaplane can take advantage of the unique geography to open up parts of the country that are normally difficult and time consuming to access. As far back as 1998 the Royal Society of Edinburgh recommended to the government that the use of seaplanes, as part of the solution to solving transport problems in isolated areas, could play a major part in developing rural Scotland.

With the tourism industry worth more than £4 billion a year the new service plans to offer golfing visitors, fishing groups, sightseers and even wedding parties a unique view of Scotland by ferrying them to all corners of the Highlands and Islands.

 

For further information please contact David West at Loch Lomond Seaplanes on 01436 675030 / 07867 720514 or visit www.lochlomondseaplanes.com

Issued on behalf of Loch Lomond Seaplanes by Peppercorn PR, PO Box 26633, Helensburgh, G84 4AW, Tel: 07005 964312

  • Loch Lomond seaplane coming in to land

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