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Cape Air wins right from feds to fly seaplanes between Boston Harbor and New York's East River; wants to use Long Wharf as a terminal

The BPDA board on Thursday will consider letting Cape Air dock seaplanes at Long Wharf to fly people to and from New York.

An item on the board's monthly agenda calls for amending Boston Waterboat Marina's current lease for part of Long Wharf for berthing boats to allow for up to four daily flights between Boston Harbor and the East River, as part of a year-long pilot.

Cape Air would use about 250 square feet on the wharf for loading and unloading passengers and would be given 96,625 square feet of surface area on the harbor itself for the planes to take off and whatever the water equivalent of landing is. Although Logan is just not far from downtown, New York's airports are all located at some distance from downtown and midtown Manhattan.

According to a memorandum from BPDA staff to the board, Cape Air has won FAA approval for the flights. The memo adds it would be the only airline allowed to use the facility during the one-year test and that:

Flight schedules shall be subordinate to existing waterborne ferry scheduled uses and planes will be required yield right of way to Ferry traffic in order ensure no interruption or delay in ferry service.

Cape Air's fees for using Long Wharf will be split 50/50 between the marina and the BPDA - BPDA staff expect the authority to earn a minimum of $40,000 over the year-long pilot.

Under the proposed agreement, Cape Air will not be allowed to fuel the planes at Long Wharf and would have to find someplace else to store them overnight.

The BPDA board's meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. in its ninth-floor conference room in City Hall.

BPDA staff memo on the proposed pilot.



Please opt for Acela...


...pray for a Sully.


Three young human beings crashed nose first into pitch black freezing water off the Vineyard. If the crash didn't kill them, they died struggling to escape the wreckage as water filled their lungs.

But sure, Kennedy jokes are funny I guess.

Call it the "Cape Air Clipper"


or call it "Da Plane! Da Plane!"

I hope that they are planning to be able to move that to dry land come the highest tides.

Use Morrissey Blvd. on those days instead?


Are the one thing you can’t throw “but what are they going to do when the seas rise” at.

I was talking about that "250 square feet" of Long Wharf they had in their application.

Any tide over 12' floods that area, which happens several times a year at current tide levels, let alone under storm surge conditions. They will need to plan to move anything that they put out there to handle passengers and luggage.


Are you a pilot too?


Not a pilot.

I just know how to read a tide chart.

I also know what a stalker troll is.



As in, “A seaplane is an aircraft designed to take off and land (correctly, though less commonly termed, "alight") upon water.”



Another mode of transport to NYC from Boston is a great thing. Can't wait to buy a ticket.


Just curious if there'd be any good estimates of how long a trip would be and the prices.

A local news source I read put it at $320-340 one way and total trip time of about an hour. Honestly not terrible and a better cost/hour value over the Acela. I bet every one of those flights will be full.

What's the over/under on having an incident with a sailboat that can't get out of the way of a seaplane trying to land? There are dozens of sailboats out there every day during the summer, many with kids and adults learning how to sail. There isn't a week that goes by that there isn't an incident with the commercial shipping. Adding seaplanes is not a good idea.

I'd say that you are repeating the old "oh no - something new. New is bad" refrain, except that sea planes are historic features of Boston Harbor.

...that this is something seaplane pilots are used to dealing with.

It's hard enough to enjoy the harbor in a sailboat when you have to watch out for tankers, cruise ships, ferries, drunken harbor cruises, fishing trawlers, Coast Guard cutters, a number of waterborne police agencies, Codzilla!, recreational power boats and skidoos. Not to mention the restricted areas around Logan and the USS Constitution.

Then again, it's a major shipping channel so one has to figure things out.

Wish I’d thought of it.

Vancouver Canada to Seattle Washington by seaplane
1 hour, $160

“The money prints itself!”

Bet those new dwellers of sterile seaport thought they were far enough away from Logan justify the price they paid. HA!

The inner harbor is heavily congested in summer with ferries, recreational boaters, sailing lessons and races, numerous tourist boats of all shapes, sizes, and speeds, the occasional huge tanker, freighters, cruise and container ships, megayachts, inflatibles, jet skis, paddle boards etc. Where is the "landing" zone going to be and who is going to prevent some vessel from intentionally or accidentally cutting across it as the seaplane lands? They do it for the LNG tankers a couple of times per month but I doubt BPD, MSP and Coast Guard are going out to clear a safe zone four times daily. Also curious on the price point for the flights? Potentially a good thing unless it's only for the 1%.


The linked BPDA document suggests that there will be a maximum of 4 flights per day.

If Cape Air's website and existing seaplane service is any indication of what they'll use, it looks like the planes are tiny and will only carry 9 passengers.

With the service capped at 36 passengers/day, the price point can't possibly be low.

So, a special service for the wealthy who don't want to mix with the rest of us plebeians who fly non-sea?

I just have a problem taking public spaces (the end of Long Wharf with the open space) for those who can afford to flash their cash, to the possible exclusion of the public.

Sitting at the end of Long Wharf, in the summer, is one of my most pleasurable things to do. Nothing like the peace of the lapping harbor mixing with the landing of a sea plane.

but by god, they will privatize the end of Long Wharf come hell but most certainly high water.

Amtrak and flights out of Logan can get pretty crazy. Wife and I are actually driving down to Brooklyn this weekend to take advantage of a really good hotel deal, because even months ago both other options were out of hand.

It’s only 36 people max, but hoping the demand shift makes Logan flights cheaper, which in turn does the same for Amtrak.

Cape Air uses those same planes for all their flights, and their airfares aren't usually any worse than the big guys. They fly in and out of airports small enough that you can't land a 737, which I think means lower usage fees for the airline. I've taken Cape Air up to the Thousand Islands, and it was maybe a couple hundred bucks round-trip?

If this provides a way to get from downtown Boston to downtown NYC in less time, I'm for it. The Acela is 4+ hours, as is the commuter jet by the time you add in travel time at both airports. This could potentially cut that in half.

It looks a little more like a commuter service. With two gates and flights taking off every 5-15 minutes. I've heard that a big driver of the service is the large population of commuters living on Vancouver Island.

Vancouver has much better harbor access though. Perhaps the Seaport would be a better choice?


The two bigger carriers are actually based out at the airport, not downtown FYI. Mostly they serve to extend the range of people flying in/out of YVR vs. commuters. So that would more like having the dock in Eastie and serving folks who wanted to get to places like Bar Harbor, Rockland, Wolfsboro, etc... I think.

Why is the city encouraging this, while stifling the affordable, environmental, and profitable intercity bus industry?

They banned curbside loading (despite a Federal law giving interstate buses the right to operate without local interference), and told bus companies they had to use the bus terminal, except sorry the terminal is fully leased.


There are large, established bus lines who were being undercut by the Bolt bus types running without following the same rules as Greyhound and Peter Pan. There's no existing service trying to defend itself here.

5 trips in a row between Boston and New York on Greyhound with a major issue, over a period of roughly 3 years. From drivers not showing up (twice) to replacement busses in Middle of Nowhere, CT. The last straw was the night we would’ve been stuck at the Port Authority until the middle of the night, if not the next day, had friends who live near us not happened to also be in NY and able to drive us back with them.

Operating “by the rules” and actually functioning are not always the same thing. I personally welcome as much competition as possible.

Always has been.

Federal law giving interstate buses the right to operate without local interference? Yes, partial credit, but deducting a couple of points - Fung Wah and Lucky Star were skirting the parts of the law about charter buses as cover to operate scheduled service.
Profitable intercity bus industry? Umm, yes. They weren't putting the money into things like vehicle maintenance or break time for their drivers, so they were probably making a profit.

(For the TLDR-sensitive among the readership, I'll skip the bulk of my usual rant against the inconsistent behavior of those who hold one point of view in the intercity bus question and hold the opposite point of view in the appride/medallion cab question. You're all welcome - don't say I never did anything for you.)

I will give you bonus points for using the correct* plural of "bus". (* "correct" as in "the option I prefer, as opposed to the other option that the dictionary says is also legit")

Fung Wah and Lucky Star had Federal licenses for scheduled service, not just charters. Lucky Star still has such a license, and they continue to operate, as you probably know.

Even if you buy into the narrative that they didn't maintain their buses properly, there were bus companies besides those two which got shut out by Boston (and Cambridge). Including Peter Pan.

And what does maintenance have to do with interference with on-street loading? Boston didn't say, "Maintain your buses better if you want to stop on the street." They said, "Get in the bus terminal, except the bus terminal is full."

And the bus terminal is full because the established companies had leased all the gates, even though they only use many of them a few times a day.

I'm curious, does anyone know if seaplane operations like this would require TSA security screening? If so I feel like that's a major obstacle to this service.

I can't imagine they're going to build a TSA checkpoint within that 250 ft on Long Wharf though...

small private planes dont really get screening.

The seaplanes arent going to hold that many people.

I knew private planes didn't, but these aren't going to be people flying their private planes, this is a commercial airline selling tickets on scheduled flights.

Good question.
As a functional thing, it's something somewhere between ferry terminal and airport.
I've noticed posted regulations, notices of alert levels, and more channelized boarding lines at ferries in recent years - but nothing like a formal TSA checkpoint.
At Logan, even the small gate/apron at Signature Flight support has a TSA checkpoint - but that's at least in part because it's an access point to the air side (as opposed to the street side) of the whole airport environment.
Will these planes be amphibious? If they're seaplane only, airport security wouldn't be a concern. If they're amphibs, conceivably they could be diverted to LaGuardia or another airport if an issue came up with choppy seas at the water landing zone and in such a case maybe air-side security would be an issue.

Planes under a certain size don't require security screening.

Sea planes are cool. Watching them land or take off is cool. They will be more of an attraction than they will be noise pollution. (Though if too loud during the trial period, I'd also vote them out).

I agree they won't be cheap. But saying it's just for the 1% is probably a stretch.

As long as the BRA gets their cut of the action, things will happen...