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article imageEurope's first modern seaplane network one step closer in Croatia Special

By Paul Bradbury     Jan 20, 2014 in Travel
Jelsa - European aviation history moves one step closer, as authorities confirm downtown Split as a key location for Europe's first modern seaplane network.
It has been a 13-year battle with Croatian bureaucracy, but the announcement on January 17, 2013 that a concession had been granted in the city of Split for the hydroplane project of European Coastal Airlines ensures that the first modern scheduled seaplane service in Europe will begin in Croatia as early as May this year.
The concession, in the prime location of Matejuska on the Split waterfront, means that the German-based company will be able to connect the Dalmatian capital with popular islands such as Hvar, Vis and Korcula, slashing transfer times at affordable prices, leading to a true revolution in Croatian tourism on the popular Adriatic coast.
The ECA island-hopping service will allow tourists to concentrate on the reason for their holiday - ...
The ECA island-hopping service will allow tourists to concentrate on the reason for their holiday - fun.
European Coastal Airlines
"Split-Dalmatian County will issue a concession permit, and according to its jurisdiction the City will issue a location permit for European Coastal Airlines", Split Mayor Ivo Baldasar told Dalmacijanews. "What is most important now is that hydroplanes finally start flying. And they will, this summer, from Matejuska."
Poring over the proposed design in the office of Mayor Niksa Peronja
Poring over the proposed design in the office of Mayor Niksa Peronja
The implications for tourism in Dalmatia are significant. The popular island of Hvar will now be just 10 minutes from downtown Split, with two planned destination — Jelsa and Hvar Town — with a price less than 40 euro a passenger. The 2014 destination plan includes Split airport, Split downtown, Vis, Jelsa, Hvar Town, Korcula, Lastovo and Dubrovnik, although the infamous Croatian bureaucracy may limit this for the 2014 season.
Final measurements were taken for the seaport construction  which is due to open in May.
Final measurements were taken for the seaport construction, which is due to open in May.
One destination which is pushing full steam ahead, however, is the resort of Jelsa, the third largest town on Hvar on its northern shores. Digital Journal and national portal T-Portal joined the ECA team for its meeting with Jelsa Mayor Niksa Peronja to finalise proposals for the arrival of seaplanes in the town from May.
There has been excellent cooperation from the Jelsa authorities from the beginning  with plenty of p...
There has been excellent cooperation from the Jelsa authorities from the beginning, with plenty of proactive suggestions to help the project.
"We are doing all we can to facilitate this excellent project for Jelsa," said Peronja. "Apart from being great for tourism in the area, the connection can only be of benefit to island life. We are delighted that Jelsa will be included in the first phase of this ground-breaking project. The paperwork is almost in place, and I have no doubt that we will be welcoming tourists by plane in less than four months."
The meeting was cordial, with the result that the concession for the sea port should be granted in a few days, the latest positive development in a piece of aviation history which will soon take place in Croatia, after a 13-year battle. ECA Managing Director Klaus Dieter Martin, who has spent much of the winter on time-consuming ferries to various islands pushing the project forward, is clearly enthusiastic at recent developments:
The view to Jelsa from the proposed seaport
The view to Jelsa from the proposed seaport
"Only think of the advantages we are bringing to the islanders and the people in Dalmatia — we are not only cutting travel time, we are giving them the opportunity to enhance their living on the islands, being faster at the places where they want or need to be, such as the hospital, the doctor, their work and last not least their beloved ones. Introducing the first scheduled seaplane operation will not only be Croatian but European Aviation history and yet another milestone in introducing the innovative Croatian entrepreneurship to the world.
"Above all we will create 400 new jobs in the county and connecting Dalmatia directly to Italy by seaplane, which will not only bring more tourists, but as well open the possibility to pro-long the season sustainably. We are already in very positive negotiations with italian tour operators and have no doubt that Pescara & Ancona will be directly connected to Hvar in 2014."
More about european coastal airlines, split croatia, hvar, Croatia, seaplanes croatia
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