A COMMERCIAL seaplane company is set for a major international expansion, starting with the opening up of possible new services in Wales.
Under the banner of European Seaplanes, the team behind the award-winning Loch Lomond Seaplanes would like to use their years of experience operating on demand services throughout the west of Scotland to repeat their success in Cardiff.
Says a spokesperson: “The move would see the Welsh capital become the first city in England and Wales, and only the second in Europe, to have a city seaplane service on its own doorstep.
“Tourism is worth more than £6 billion a year to the Welsh economy and the new service, which could create at least 20 new jobs and scores of spin-off benefits for other businesses, would like to offer visitors to South Wales a unique view of some of the most beautiful countryside and coastline in the world.
“The new services, which could transform air travel to the most remote parts of the country, could take off early in the New Year but already eager passengers have been enquiring about flights as possible Christmas presents and treats for family and friends.”
Said Captain David West, the man behind the idea and a pilot with almost 30 years international flying experience: “There are some 390 lakes in Wales and although not all are suitable for seaplanes the country’s geography offers a natural transportation network.
“A versatile seaplane can take advantage of the geography to open up parts of the country that are normally difficult and time consuming to access.
“Tourism is a major revenue source for Wales’s economy and research has shown that seaplanes can offer an exciting medium for visitors and tourists to get the most out of their visit without putting an additional strain on the environment.
“We get thousands of visitors to our website every year from London, the south of England and Wales who are really interested in going on the seaplane and making it part of a holiday.
“However, we are often asked why we don’t have a service operating closer to people living in the south of the UK. A Cardiff service could be the answer to that.”
Loch Lomond Seaplanes already offers a variety of charters, tours and destination flights from the River Clyde in the centre of Glasgow and from Loch Lomond.
Since taking-off for the first time seven years ago, the company has become one of the most iconic images in the country and has been used to attract visitors from around the world to the west of Scotland.
After discussions with potential stakeholders and, providing initial trial flights go well, it is hoped that Wales could have its own seaplane service operating on the waterfront of Cardiff Bay with scenic flights starting early 2011 from around £139.
Professor Jeremy Stone, one of Wales’s leading entrepreneurs who is helping to bring the seaplane service to Wales, is sure that it could be an asset to the country in attracting tourism.
He said: “Seaplane services already operate successfully in other parts of the world, so I am certain this will provide a boost to tourism both locally and across Wales.
“There has already been considerable interest prior to the launch and the seaplane could be an attractive proposition to a whole range of visitors.”
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