Start-up seaplane operator Waterfront Air is setting up base in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and aims to launch services before the end of the year.

Waterfront Air has signed a contract for four pre-owned. de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters from an undisclosed Canadian company. The twin-engined turboprops will provide commercial flights linking cities in the Pearl River Delta such as Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Macau and Shenzhen, says Peter de Kantzow Waterfront Air director and co-founder. Water ferries or relatively expensive helicopters now link those cities.

"We don't expect to take away the helicopter business, but we will be a lot cheaper," says de Kantzow, who is the son of Sydney de Kantzow, the Australian pilot who co-founded Cathay Pacific Airways as well as Macau Air Transport, a seaplane operator that lasted until the early 1960s.

Waterfront expects to transport more than 300,000 people annually within the greater Pearl River Delta. It has reached an agreement with Shenzhen Airport Group to make Shenzhen the company's main base, says de Kantzow. "Shenzhen is a lot cheaper than Hong Kong and Macau," he adds.

The airport has a marine terminal from which passengers can access the main terminal, says de Kantzow.

Because the carrier will be based in China, Waterfront Air is seeking a Chinese equity partner, he confirms.

The airline will also be applying for an air operator's certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China and will be classified as a general aviation business, de Kantzow says.

Source: Flight International