PLANS are being drawn up to provide the south-west with a sea plane service by the end of next summer.
Two Cork men are among the four directors of Harbour Air Ireland which is planning to launch its first service in the west of Ireland next February.
Engineer Emelyn Heapes, one of the directors, said it was hoped to land a 19-seater Otter plane in the River Lee near Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Harbour Air is awaiting approval from the IAA (Irish Aviation Authority) for its first scheduled passenger flights, which will take place between Galway, Inis Mor and Foynes, Co Limerick. “The inaugural flight will be between Foynes – which was once synonymous with flying boats – and Galway. We picked Foynes for that reason. The last sea plane flight out of there was on October 17, 1959,” Mr Heapes said.
Many people will remember him building a microlite aeroplane in 1987, which Gay Byrne featured on the Late Late Show.
He re-enacted the famous stunt scene from the WWI film the Blue Max when he flew it under the viaduct in Fermoy.
He has now teamed up with Cobh-based engineer Adam Cronin, Ronan Connolly, a solicitor from Ennis, and another engineer, Stewart Curtis from Broadford, to form the new company.
The company aims initially to capitalise on the tourist trade in the west, but expansion proposals include also plans to move out to providing links to all cities in Ireland.
“Bord Fáilte estimates that 2.2 million people come to the west and 250,000 visit the Aran Islands. So there is great potential to take more people out there,” Mr Heapes said.
However, the potential money-spinner is likely to be the establishment of services between the big cities.
“The number of daily flights will, of course, depend on demand. Aer Lingus and Ryanair each operate three flights a day between Cork and Dublin. The beauty with our service will be that people won’t have the hassle of getting out of airports into the city centre. They will arrive in the city centres,” Mr Heapes said.
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