In Hong Kong, one startup is offering a faster, inexpensive option to navigate the city's busy streets — via the sea.
Seaplane Hong Kong will be introducing a trial operation of its first urban air mobility passenger line by end-2021. The pilotless passenger drone service will connect Central, Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O districts, shortening commute time down to five to eight minutes.
Embarkation and disembarkation will be initially done at the eight-floor Water Aerodrome Skyport, a lounge area that includes a chairman suite and helipad, while in the works are plans for the drone to land on selected rooftops in the next couple of years.
The outfit will also offer an aerial sightseeing service that allows locals and visitors to see Hong Kong starting from HK$250 (US$32) per person.
In comparison, helicopter rides in Hong Kong typically offer sightseeing charges of around HK$13,000 per person versus HK$200 per trip for Seaplane, according to founder Steven Cheung.
“We are a sustainable and futuristic way to see the city with our electric seaplanes and urban air mobility passenger drone,” he added.
There will also be a private charter option with an on-demand air taxi service available to far-flung destinations like Sai Kung’s hidden Millionaire’s Beach. “You can charter a plane and turn up in style,” said Cheung.
In the pipeline are private charters to farther afield, which will open up possibilities for quick getaways to Macau or even honeymoon and teambuilding trips to private resorts in the South China Sea.
Meanwhile, the company is currently working with Hong Kong-based travel agents, China Travel Service, Towa Tours and Arrow Travel Agency, to target both the leisure and corporate markets in the Greater Bay Area.
The company has three seaplanes in the mix — the Twin Otter Series 3/400, which carries 19 passengers and two pilots; the pilotless Urban Air Mobility Passenger Drone, which carries two to six passengers; and the Cessna Caravan, with two pilots and seats for up to nine passengers.