by: Ricky Bonilla
Airlines have been on the sea since the flying boat days of Pan American, South Pacific Air Lines, T.E.A.L. and others. However, water-only service began as early as 1962 with British United Airways. They were among the first airline to offer coastal boat service with the VA-3, the first hovercraft. Air France’s Bateau Rapide took passengers from Nice to neighboring ports of St. Tropez and Cannes and other airlines offered channel and river crossings.
The SAS Airlines passenger hovercraft was adorned with Viking names such as their aircraft, and their crew wore SAS company uniforms. Connecting passengers would board with their boarding passes and were greeted with lite amenities and Duty Free shopping.
Other airlines were sea bound with promotional sails for special events and television commercials. Air New Zealand sponsored event of The New Zealand’s Challenge for the America’s Cup in 1986. Ozark Airline promotional campaign sail boat was used on various adverts and timetables in the early 1980s. United Airlines and Thai Airways used their branding on Sailboards and small catamaran sailboats for tv advertisements in the 80s.
San Francisco — SFO Helicopter Airlines had scheduled hovercraft service across the San Francisco bay. From hovercraft to helicopter to airplane. Their SK5 hovercraft carried 15 passengers and two crew. Talk about convenience!