Dornier Amphibian To Fly DC-NY Route
ANN April 1st Special Edition: U.S. Airways
says it will be the first major airline in more than 65 years to
offer amphibious seaplane service to Manhattan, the company
announced in a news conference Thursday. The first route will link
New York City with Washington, D.C. It will utilize the Hudson
River near the West 30th Street heliport and the Ronald Reagan
Washington National Airport. Service is expected to begin next year
on January 15.
The company plans to use the Dornier Seaplane Company's new
Seastar CD2 amphibious flying boat. The Seastar is a twin engine,
12 passenger, amphibious seaplane capable of landing on runways or
in 2 ½ foot seas. It flies at 180 knots. Dornier is an
American company, owned by the heirs of the original German company
that began building flying boats in 1915.
In making the announcement, U.S. Airways noted the heritage of
Pan Am, which was headquartered in New York City and operated a
fleet of flying boats around the world in the pre-World War II era.
"Pan Am demonstrated that the flying public loves floatplanes,"
said company President Scott Kirby. "Now that Dornier is making
seaplanes practical again, we intend to give the public the
opportunity to fly in them."
The service is expected to be popular among Wall Street bankers,
who often need to travel quickly to Washington, according to a
company spokesperson. Since the seaplane service is "a regularly
scheduled flight," bankers can avoid the political sensitivities
associated with flying to Washington in a private jet. Passengers
would also save time, since they can leave directly from Manhattan
instead of traveling to an airport outside the city.
U.S. Airways plans to operate the service using a separate
company, essentially operating as a regional airline. This will
allow the company to minimize costs, including paying employees
lower wages. The spokesperson said it plans to initially recruit
experienced bush pilots "used to enduring hardship" in Alaska. He
added the pilots could expect to earn more, since New York State
has a higher minimum wage than Alaska.
Kirby concluded the press conference by saying "We think this is
a way to increase the loyalty of our customer base while providing
them the kind of service that we found develops a deep emotional
commitment between passengers and pilots." Asked whether "Miracle
of the Hudson" pilot Chesley Sullenberger had inspired the new
service, Kirby smiled and said, "I never made that connection."