Seaplane may take off again

THE Newcastle to Sydney seaplane may rise from Honeysuckle once again with fresh corporate backing.

Regional Development Australia's Hunter chief executive Todd Williams said he had a "strong" business case for the Sydney Seaplanes service.

The company halted the service on Christmas Eve in 2011 citing inconsistent interest from local businesses.

But Mr Williams said city corporates NIB, Moray & Agnew and Prosperity Advisers had backed the new service and it could be greenlighted if a few more businesses got on board.

"We've formed a business case and have some interested parties as a pre-commitment for 48 weeks, and we are on the cusp of getting it off the ground," he said.

"We would be urging businesses who are interested in using the service to contact RDA Hunter to add their name to the list."

Sydney Seaplanes managing director Aaron Shaw confirmed the company was considering a new service and said it would likely operate two days a week.

"We're looking at one or two days a week because most people have that regularity of meetings in Sydney, rather than a daily requirement and people can arrange their schedules around the flight," he said.

NIB boss Mark Fitzgibbon said he had been campaigning for the return of the seaplane for some time and was "on board".

"The more connectivity we have between Newcastle and Sydney, the better it is for business and the region," he said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said he spent on average two days in Sydney and often caught the train but the seaplane was far more efficient.

"The beauty of the seaplane is that I can move from office to office, in downtown Sydney, in less than an hour."

Moray & Agnew partner Sean O'Sullivan said the law firm had been a heavy user of the former service, often filling seven of the Cessna Caravan's nine seats.

"We'd love to see it return," he said.

The renewed support for the seaplane service follows a plan by Australian Hovercraft Services to launch a daily Newcastle-Sydney ferry as early as May.

The proposed ferry service was overwhelmingly backed by Newcastle Herald readers, with more than 630 voting in support in our online poll.

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