Seaplane service plans to tap Macau casino boom

Hong Kong
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Tourists could soon be travelling from Hong Kong to nearby Macau’s booming casinos by seaplane, if a plan by entrepreneur Michael Agopsowicz comes to fruition.

Agopsowicz is seeking a backer for WaterfrontAir, which plans to operate an hourly service from Kowloon Harbour to Macau’s Kotai strip, using a fleet of 18-seater De Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter floatplanes. He hopes the plan will plug the gap between the two current ways to get to Macau from Hong Kong – high-speed ferry or helicopter.

“We’re faster than the ferry but cheaper than the helicopter,” says Agopsowicz. Speaking at Asian Aerospace yesterday Agopsowicz says he plans to charge between HK$1,000 and HK$1,200 for a one-way trip, compared to HK$1,900 for a helicopter trip or as little as HK$130 for the jetfoil. “Around 6 million people make the journey between Hong Kong and Macau each year, and the market is experiencing double-digit growth,” he says. “We’re looking for around 100,000 passengers a year – less than 1% of the total.”

twin otter

He is planning to outsource most of the operation, including supply of two or three aircraft, AOC and all aircrew, to Canadian Twin Otter specialist Kenn Borek Air. He hopes using an experienced operator of similar services in other cities such as Vancouver will convince Hong Kong maritime authorities to approve a seaplane service in Hong Kong’s crowded harbour. Agopsowicz says the excellent STOL capabilities of the Twin Otter allows it to take off and climb to 50ft in just 366m, minimising the risk of accidents.

He expects approval will take 18-24 months, by which time the massive $10bn Kotai strip casino development close to Macau airport will be fully open. Depending on the level of investment, Waterfront could acquire new-build Twin Otters from Viking Air, though secondhand DHC versions are more likely.

Agopsowicz wants to differentiate WaterfrontAir from the ferry and helicopter services as much as possible. It will operate directly to the Kotai strip rather than the Macau peninsula. Flights will take around 20 minutes. The plan is to run 18 flights a day – though one drawback is the inability to operate at night.


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