LIMERICK is set to welcome seaplanes in the near future after planning permission was granted for a terminal at the Clarion Hotel.
After more than two years of deliberations by Limerick City Council and An Bord Pleanala, it has been decided to give Harbour Flights Ireland permission to construct a seaplane base on the opening to the Shannon behind the landmark hotel.
Harbour Air Ireland plans to install â€œfloating pontoons, an access gangway, mooring anchors and associated infrastructure for the berthing of a seaplaneâ€.
The firm - headed by Emelyn Heaps - said a regular seaplane service will now run from the heart of Limerick, to Foynes, Galway and the Aran Islands, with the western seaboard just a 20 minute journey away,.
Limerick represents Harbour Flightsâ€™ sixth base, with other locations including Galway, Dublin, Cobh, Foynes and its main operation base on Lough Derg.
The company has been working closely with Margaret Oâ€™Shaughnessy of the Foynes flying boat museum.
The plans first went in during 2010. But they have been beset with delays, due to a number of submissions from groups including St Michaelâ€™s Rowing Club, An Taisce, and Inland Fisheries.
The former group said in its submission that if the proposal gets the green light, then they would have no choice but to move to Oâ€™Brienâ€™s bridge in Co Clare.
This, the chairman Pierce McGann said, was due to the safety hazard running a seaplane along would cause to rowers.
Mr Heaps rejected this, and said the club should have engaged in meetings with them.
He plans to charge around â‚¬50 for a seaplane seat between Limerick and Galway, and will run services between the two cities as demand dictates.
â€œWhat we want to do is align ourselves to taxi and coach firms. Seat costs will be between â‚¬40 and â‚¬50 one-way, and this gives people the option of experiencing a sea-plane flight.
â€œIf they cannot afford a return flight, we would partner with coach firms so they offer the return journey,â€ he added/
Harbour Air Ireland is building a network of terminals linking Irelandâ€™s major towns and cities, and will continue this expansion by building a further five bases across the island.