With NYC's three major airports near full capacity and flight delays rising due to overcrowded runways and increased security regulations, Mayor Bloomberg is concerned that the city's lack of speedy entrance and egress by travellers to and from the city will start to stifle economic growth. Of the many proposals put before him, the mayor is apparently putting his weight behind one that would turn the city's waterways into runways by allowing seaplanes to land and take off in them.
Officials from the city's Economic Development Corporation met in March with representatives from Tigerfish Aviation, an Australia-based seaplane manufacturer, to discuss how commercial seaplane service could work in the metropolitan region, and what kinds of planes could be employed.
The city is also considering a request from the New York City's only seaport, the Skyport Marina at 23rd Street in the East River, to help it attract private investors and boost service. The charter planes that use the marina, whose flight routes are designated by the Federal Aviation Administration, are in highest demand during the summer months, when charter companies provide direct service to the Hamptons for about $350 one way, a marina spokesman said.
Small aircraft have been banned from flying over New York City's rivers since the plane of Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed into an East Side high rise last year, but seaplanes have not been banned. The Port Authority doesn't think much of the Mayor's seaplane plan, with its spokesman noting that overcrowding is a phenomena as much in the air as it is on the ground, or water. He suggested that accomodating larger planes at area airports might be a better solution to congestion problems.
Whatever the eventual outcome of Bloomberg's proposal, we can't help but think of a self-made tycoon of another era: Howard Hughes, and his giant seaplane nicknamed the Spruce Goose.
(Composite image of a Boeing 314 in the East River)