The board of Hellenic Seaplanes (Athens Int'l) has chosen Bulgarian ACMI/charter operator Aviostart (VSR, Sofia) as a strategic partner in its bid to develop seaplane operations across the region.

Under the venture, the two companies will share their respective infrastructure to develop operations in Greece as well as Bulgaria, focusing primarily on the Black Sea. In the longterm, the goal is to link the two countries using waterways in Northern Greece.

The first phase in the strategic plan will see the Bulgarian carrier's aircraft being imported into Greece the first of which has already arrived. It will then be used in developing flights from Athens to various Greek islands.

Nicolas Charalambous, Hellenic Seaplanes President and CEO, said: "Greece can become the Maldives of Europe and our alliance with Aviostart will bring us even closer to achieving our goal."

However, the future of seaplane operations in Greece has been rocked by a recently tabled bill that seeks to take away all waterway infrastructural development from the private sector and place it in the hands of government.

According to the GTP news agency, the bill, if passed, will result in the cancellation of all private initiatives while any future projects will only occur on a public/private basis. Any pending permits will revert directly to a port fund or municipality.

Understandably, Charalambous has labelled the draft legislation as “unacceptable” claiming it will destroy the fledgling industry given that few, if any, local authorities have the resources to build waterways.

He added that Hellenic Seaplanes will lobby for the bill to be defeated given that it has already secured concessions for fifteen waterways at Skyros, Alonissos, Skopelos, Tinos, Patmos, Thassos, Chios, Psara, Oinousses, Sitia, Amfilochia, Edipsos, Karystos, Halkida, and Kymi.