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article imageA maiden flight on Europe's 1st modern scheduled hydroplane route Special

By Paul Bradbury     Aug 31, 2014 in Travel
Split - As Europe's first modern scheduled sea plane operation finally gets underway in Croatia, Digital Journal takes to the skies to check out the opening route from Split Airport to Jelsa on Hvar.
After aviation history in Europe was made this week with the launch of the first scheduled hydroplane service in Europe in the modern era, Digital Journal took to the skies on August 30, 2014, to experience the first route from Split Airport to Jelsa on the island of Hvar.
The flight, which takes just 13 minutes, is the start of a revolution in tourism travel in Croatia, finally affording tourists and locals the opportunity to island-hop, having been forced to rely until now on slower and poorly timetabled ferries.
The initial reaction to the new service has been overwhelmingly positive, with the promotional tickets at 99 kuna (US$ 17) selling quickly, and seats at the regular price of 299 kuna also selling well.
The initial expectation was that many would use the service as a transit to the popular destination of Hvar Town, but the opposite in fact has so far been true, with many people flying to experience a novelty in aviation, as well as the chance to enjoy panoramic flights and have a day trip to Jelsa.
Digital Journal booked the flight on August 30, a few days after the service started. The story of booking to disembarking at final destination is told below with commentary.
The online booking system features like a regular airline  with confirmations sent by email.
The online booking system features like a regular airline, with confirmations sent by email.
A free shuttle bus awaits passengers at Split airport for the 500 metre transfer to the sea terminal...
A free shuttle bus awaits passengers at Split airport for the 500 metre transfer to the sea terminal.
European Coastal Airlines staff handled the check-in swiftly and efficiently.
European Coastal Airlines staff handled the check-in swiftly and efficiently.
There is a small scale to check the luggage - each passenger has a free allowance of 15 kg  with eac...
There is a small scale to check the luggage - each passenger has a free allowance of 15 kg, with each additional kilo charged at 5 euro.
The airport departure lounge  surely one of the most pictruesque in Europe  and a perfect introducti...
The airport departure lounge, surely one of the most pictruesque in Europe, and a perfect introduction to a Croatian holiday.
Once checked in  the luggage is loaded by staff behind the passenger seats.
Once checked in, the luggage is loaded by staff behind the passenger seats.
Access to the plane is simple. There are procedures to assist passengers with disabilities.
Access to the plane is simple. There are procedures to assist passengers with disabilities.
Professional pilots with years of experience  flying in shorts to enhance that holiday mood.
Professional pilots with years of experience, flying in shorts to enhance that holiday mood.
A final look back at the Split Airport sea terminal  a very pleasant spot to wait for a flight.
A final look back at the Split Airport sea terminal, a very pleasant spot to wait for a flight.
The Twin Otter interior  with a seat capacity of 19 passengers.
The Twin Otter interior, with a seat capacity of 19 passengers.
One of the differences between the hydroplane and a regular airline is that it has the feeling of tr...
One of the differences between the hydroplane and a regular airline is that it has the feeling of travelling with a friendly taxi driver. Captain Mark Poppleton introduces Digital Journal to the cockpit.
Safety of course is paramount  and the pilots took passengers through the safety routiines.
Safety of course is paramount, and the pilots took passengers through the safety routiines.
The whole procedure  down to the inflatable lifejacket under the seat  was very similar to the stand...
The whole procedure, down to the inflatable lifejacket under the seat, was very similar to the standard airline experience.
The start of the journey into the unknown  as the Twin Otter taxies out of the Split sea port.
The start of the journey into the unknown, as the Twin Otter taxies out of the Split sea port.
The propellors fired up  and although it was louder than bigger commercial aircraft  there was no ne...
The propellors fired up, and although it was louder than bigger commercial aircraft, there was no need for headphones, and conversation was possible - not that anyone was talking, with all eyes fixed on the beauty outside.
A catamaran heads to Split from the islands  the previous quickest means of transfer.
A catamaran heads to Split from the islands, the previous quickest means of transfer.
The island of Brac  famous for its white stone which was used in building The White House  comes int...
The island of Brac, famous for its white stone which was used in building The White House, comes into view.
The flight gives a totally different perspective of the island of Brac.
The flight gives a totally different perspective of the island of Brac.
After a couple of minutes  the southern shores of Brac come into view.
After a couple of minutes, the southern shores of Brac come into view.
The first sighting of Croatia s premier island of Hvar  Europe s sunniest island famous for its lave...
The first sighting of Croatia's premier island of Hvar, Europe's sunniest island famous for its lavender.
There are plenty of exquisite bays and pristine seas to observe as the plane heads to its destinatio...
There are plenty of exquisite bays and pristine seas to observe as the plane heads to its destination of Jelsa.
A travel experience for dreamers and romantics.
A travel experience for dreamers and romantics.
Destination Jelsa comes into view just 13 minutes later. The previous option was to take a 40-minute...
Destination Jelsa comes into view just 13 minutes later. The previous option was to take a 40-minute bus to Split, then wait for a 2-hour ferry to Stari Grad, then a 15-minute bus ride to Jelsa, unless the arrival coincided with the 90-minute catamaran at 16:00 daily.
ECA dock handlers were on hand to receive the plane at the small Jelsa terminal  which is centrally ...
ECA dock handlers were on hand to receive the plane at the small Jelsa terminal, which is centrally located in the middle of the pretty harbour.
Dock handler Tonci Buj springs to action  ensuring a smooth and safe conclusion to a swift and extre...
Dock handler Tonci Buj springs to action, ensuring a smooth and safe conclusion to a swift and extremely pleasant travel experience.
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