Cape Air is proposing a public seaplane service offering downtown-to-downtown connection between Boston and New York City.
The proposal includes four daytime fair-weather flights on nine-seat Cessna Caravan 208 Amphibians. The approximately 1¼ hour flight would launch from Waterboat Marina’s exterior dock located past the tip of Long Wharf, taxi one mile out to Logan’s Runway 1432, and take off for the NYC’s Skyport.
Cape Air and Waterboat Marina are requesting three moorings in the mooring field between the harbor and the dock remain unoccupied to provide an informal “channel,” which would keep seaplanes clear of the ferry fairways and approaches.
Fares have been priced competitively with air shuttle walk-up fares, currently costing $339. The planes would not fly over downtown Boston and would be stationed at a Cape Air base overnight. Fueling options are being explored, with a preference for a solution on-dock.
Cape Air hosted an information session on Wednesday evening at the Long Wharf Marriott to provide a community update and receive feedback. The company was encouraged by the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) to conduct a community process in order to potentially obtain a license amendment as a subtenant of Boston Waterboat Marina, which would then require board approval. Several Cape Air representatives attended including CEO Dan Wolf, President/ CAO Linda Markham, Senior Vice President of Planning Andrew Bonney and Evan Phillips.
Wolf was quick to acknowledge that it was reasonable for the proposal to be met with some skepticism, stating:
“If you’re going into something like this, you have to prove you’re worthy. We’re not here to focus on the extractive, but to be good neighbors and responsible citizens by how we engage with the community.”
Following the presentation, Q&A presented a mix of comments and concerns.
Regarding noise levels, the issue was raised whether Cape Air would be acting in compliance with the City’s prescribed ordinance: “We’ve conducted a sound study, and we’ve been working with a number of regulatory committees on this. As far as we know, the noise footprint is compliant,” said Bonney, supported by Phillips who also answered technical questions.
The feasibility of the informal channel was questioned repeatedly. One resident wondered if seaplane operations could potentially interfere with harbor traffic and maritime activity. Cape Air responded by citing operational approval from the FAA and Coast Guard, as well as time-lapse research conducted with a camera placed on top of the Hyatt Hotel.
Wharf District Council (WDC) President Mark Margulies issued a letter of support. Stated in the letter, the proposal “makes a lot of sense” to membership, but the WDC urged Cape Air to ensure careful coordination with all stakeholders.
Both Cheryl DelGreco, President of the North End/Waterfront Residents’ Association (NEWRA) and Brett Roman, President of the North End/Waterfront Neighborhood Council (NEWNC) asked if Cape Air would be willing to attend future community meetings to consider concerns and work with residents. Cape Air agreed, pledging to keep an open dialogue with the public throughout the process.