The UK's only amphibious air taxi service is floating through the recession. After doubling the number of passengers it carried last year to 6,000, Loch Lomond Seaplanes aims to add a Viking Air DHC-6 Twin Otter Series 400 to the Cessna 208 Caravan it operates on tourist and business flights from the river Clyde in Glasgow to remote towns on the Scottish west coast.
Founded five years ago by Cathay Pacific pilot David West and his wife Susie to offer sightseeing flights over Loch Lomond with a Cessna 206, the company says the bigger Twin Otter would allow it to add the Isle of Skye to its main destinations - Oban and Tobermory on Mull.
Loch Lomond Seaplanes is even talking to the Scottish government about funding for a scheduled service from Portree harbour on Skye to Glasgow and Edinburgh airports. Although linked to the mainland by bridge, Skye is 5h drive from Glasgow and the largest Hebridean island without a regular air connection.
Loch Lomond is in talks with Palm Beach-based Loch Ard Otters about one of the six Series 400 Twin Otters the Florida leasing company has on order. "We are keen to introduce the aircraft to the UK in 2010," says West.
After almost quadrupling in size in 20 months, West faces a capacity challenge. " If we had a bit of easing in credit markets, we'd buy another Caravan," he says.