Are you ready for modern European aviation history?
Regular flights to Hvar, it is such a nice concept. But could it ever actually happen?
After 13 long years of fighting Croatia's legendary bureaucracy, it would seem that the answer is not only an affirmative yes, but also that Hvar will be making modern aviation history in Europe in the process. As early as this week.
European Coastal Airlines has announced that the first ever flight of its new hydroplane service will take place from Split Airport to Jelsa later this week. The flight, which will take just 13 minutes, will be the first scheduled flight for a modern sea plane service anywhere in Europe, so a proud day for the island indeed.
So how will the new travel option from Split airport actually work? For those of you used to waiting for the airport bus, then waiting in Split for the ferry, prepare for an upgrade...
Tickets for European Coastal Airlines will be available online via the company website (www.ec-air.eu) or available for purchase locally at their sea port ticket offices.
Additionally, the airline has a sales office already inside Split Airport (turn right as you come through the Arrivals hall). A shuttle bus will be waiting to take you the short distance to your first view of the Adriatic Sea, just 500 metres away, where the airline's departure lounge is a cafe on the water, where you will be free to relax with a cocktail or two before boarding your flight.
And then, just 13 minutes later, after a breathtaking flight over the Adriatic, you will approach the town of Jelsa on Hvar's northern coast.
Travelling to Hvar Town? A waiting transfer service will take you directly into Hvar, and tickets to Hvar Town with transfer can all be booked online in one transaction. Free luggage allowance will be 15 kg plus a piece of hand luggage.
The ECA service will fly all year, with a reduced capacity in the winter months of course, but there will be an initial four flights a day from Split Airport to Jelsa, with the plane capacity for 19 passengers.
Negotiations are ongoing for other destinations, but in the early stages, Jelsa will also be connected directly to Ancona in Italy (66 minutes), and other destinations in the first network include Pula, the island of Rab, Zagreb Airport and Zadar Airport. It is expected that connections to Vis, Korčula, Lastovo and Dubrovnik will be added shortly, while a sea port in downtown Split would reduce travel time to just ten minutes.
As the network expands, the concept of true island hopping will become a reality - day trips between Hvar and Korčula or Vis, for example.
It promises to be an exciting week in Jelsa...
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - European Coastal Airlines