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Why are there so few seaplane airlines?

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Why are there so few seaplane airlines?

Old 20th Nov 2012, 23:02
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Why are there so few seaplane airlines?

I saw this nice picture Photos: De Havilland Canada DHC-3T Vazar Turbine Otter Aircraft Pictures | Airliners.net

Made me wonder why there are so few seaplane airlines around in Europe and the world, and why canada seem to have so many?

Any ideas why?

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Old 21st Nov 2012, 17:46
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Lets Sea.

Canada has huge area with limited scope for small airfield in many areas due to cost / usage so using the natural area for landing make economic sense as no resurfacing of landing area ever required.
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Old 21st Nov 2012, 19:33
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There is a seaplane service from the river Clyde at Glasgow city centre to Oban and Mull operated by Lomond Seaplanes. You should be able to google or youtube it.
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Old 21st Nov 2012, 19:56
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Bar a few exceptions, I can't see a real need for "sea planes". Look at the number of coastal airports around the UK.
Maybe in some remote regions on the planet, where there are no airports, then maybe sea planes would be of use. but really IMO they bar obvious exceptions, they are out of date.

Last edited by Ernest Lanc's; 21st Nov 2012 at 19:57.
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Old 9th Dec 2012, 23:40
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1) Capacity. You don't see a ton of airlines flying that small of planes, and many of them are in sparsely populated areas, like Canada or parts of Australia, but not most of Europe.

2) SEA. The name of the plane says it all. Seaplane versions of planes you can buy normal are often more expensive, and the only routes they serve are ones with water but no asphalt. Most of Europe and the US have plenty of airports, but not a lot of empty water space, and most water is near a good airport. Canada and Alaska have inlets and coves, rivers, lakes, and not a lot of people in a very large area. It makes more sense in Europe to fly ATRs of Airbuses. It makes more sense in northern Canada to fly small planes that can land in odd places.

That being side, Canadian Airlines that serve mostly south Canada near the US border, such as Westjet and AC, fly larger planes.

3) Speed/range. Seaplanes fly for short distances slowly. There are so many LCCs in Europe that you could get the same ticket price on a longer route faster. Much faster. And in more comfort (though I'm not sure 28" pitch counts as comfort )
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Old 10th Dec 2012, 22:36
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I would add another reason - connectivity. Seaplanes ruled the roost at a time when there were very few airports. Then some airports developed around sea plane ports (eg LGA).

Now, must be 99%+ of commercial aviation uses "land" airports. So how do you connect from one system to the other? There are a few examples (SEA, iconically enough) where this can be done, but otherwise you need a land transfer on top. Just not worth the hassle most of the time.

You could also ask "where are all the car ferries in the Caribbean, when there are so many cruise ships". And you'd also have answered your own question!
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Old 11th Dec 2012, 23:23
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Then some airports developed around sea plane ports (eg LGA).
Ah, yes. The marine air terminal. These days, with all the land based airports, the long-range planes are strictly land-based. Operating a 777 from the water would be interesting. These days, the seaplanes are mostly small things, not the massive(for the time) 70 person craft with dining rooms. It is cheaper, faster, and pleases the customer more to fly from ground-based airports with larger jet planes.

There are a few examples (SEA, iconically enough) where this can be done, but otherwise you need a land transfer on top.
I know how to solve the International Congestion problem! A new floating terminal and a new runway, 17/35 Water!
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