by Jeni Bone
A floating heliport designed will open on Sydney Harbour next month, aiming to attract tourists and become 'a more convenient way of getting to the CBD from the airport for business executives'.
Helipad asset on Sydney Harbour
The flat top powered barge, which will feature deck accommodation, takes its place in the harbour in early December. It will be operated by Newcastle Helicopters and will be made available to any pre-approved operator during the hours of 7am and dusk.
The company will operate its own helicopters from the facility. Landing and movement fees have not been established.
By the middle of next year, the floating heliport will be a purpose-built vessel complete with meeting rooms, aircraft storage and refuelling facilities.
It is hoped taking helicopter trips from the barge, featuring two helipads, will become as much of a classic Sydney experience as the Harbour Bridge climb.
James Guest and Mitchell Campbell, Directors of Newcastle Helicopters, say the service will answer the growing need for helicopter based services in the Sydney CBD area.
'The Floating Heliport will offer swift transfers from Mascot airport ideal for the time poor businessperson and centrally located Sydney residents, and scenic flights over Sydney Harbour convenient to tourists staying close to the CBD, and those visiting with limited schedules on cruise ships,' said Campbell, adding that flights further afield will be available to neighbouring regions including the Hunter Valley and Blue Mountains.
The Cruise Ship industry will be a major winner, he said. 'Scenic flights, previously based out of Mascot and Bankstown airports, can now take off from the Harbour, making it a lot more accessible for their passengers. They can get off the tender straight on to the heliport, with no Sydney traffic.'
For boaties, the service will offer convenient flights direct to the Harbour from the airport, or access to the Hunter Valley or south coast, ideal for superyachts or cruisers without helipads.
The concept has been 12 months in planning and approval process through NSW Roads & Maritime Services.
NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner said the heliport, the first in the CBD since the late 1980s, confirmed Sydney's place as a 'truly international city'.
'The Sydney Harbour Floating Heliport is a new signature experience that will help entice visitors to Sydney and make it easy for them to enjoy a birds' eye view of the harbour,' he said. 'The heliport will be based in the Harbour it will have the ability to move around where it is at any given time, it will depend on the shipping, it will depend on the approved flight-paths that are already in place for helicopters and it will depend on the demands of the high-end VIP tourists who will use it,' he said.
The transport industry has welcomed the addition, stating that Sydney's tourism credentials were damaged by forcing visitors to travel to Mascot, Bankstown or Rosehill to take helicopter joy flights.
Tourism and Transport Forum chief executive John Lee believes it will be particularly welcomed by money-rich but time-poor tourists.
'Many international visitors are interested in visiting regional areas, but they simply don't have the time to drive or travel by coach or train,' he said.
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