When China’s largest public company decided to launch a seaplane commuter service to serve the millions of people living on its coast or near major waterways, they turned to B.C.-based Harbour Air.
This June, Zongshen Industrial Group acquired a 49 per cent share in Harbour Air, including 25 per cent of the voting shares, in a deal approved by the Canada Transportation Agency.
The partnership will see Harbour Air’s airline operations model form the basis for China’s debut into commercial seaplane service.
“The Chinese military had the airspace controlled 10,000 feet and lower until recently,” says Harbour Air’s executive VP Randy Wright. “They started to relax that with urbanization — the opportunity is now.”
The model is ideal for China, says Wright, because floatplanes don’t need costly airport infrastructure.
Harbour Air currently has 400 employees and 50 planes. Wright says the strategic partnership to export expertise to China could lead to more local jobs here at home.