Italian holiday islands favoured by celebrities are hoping to speed up transfer times to the mainland with a vessel that is part boat, part aeroplane and part hovercraft.
Ponza and Ventotene, off the coast of Naples, want to acquire the eight-seater AirFish 8, which can take off from water and fly at 120mph on a cushion of air six feet above the waves.
“Our problem is slow ferries, which can take 80 minutes to get from Ponza to San Felice Circeo on the mainland, while the AirFish could do it in 12,” Giuseppe Schiboni, the mayor of San Felice Circeo, said. The small town, along the coast from Naples, is also backing the project.
Launched by Wigetworks, a Singapore start-up, the AirFish uses a car engine to power propellers that lift it out of the water, where the combination of its wing shape and proximity to the surface create extra lift from increased air pressure.
The same principle is used by gliding albatrosses. With no drag from the water to slow it down, the AirFish uses less fuel than a speedboat and has a range of up to 340 miles, according to the manufacturers.
Getting Beyoncé from Naples to Ponza in 12 Minutes
Mr Schiboni said that he was interested in talking to Wigetworks about a version with foldable wings, which would allow it to enter tiny island ports in Italy. One of the interested islands, Ventotene, has had a decline in its population from 1,200 about 50 years ago to barely 300 now, in part because of its distance from the Italian mainland.
Another, Ponza, is a favourite holiday destination for the singer Beyoncé and the summer retreat of the Fendi fashion family.
Mr Schiboni suggested that the AirFish could be used to link other islands off Italy’s west coast that are favoured by celebrities, including Ischia and Capri. “You could get off a plane at Rome airport, get on to an AirFish and be whisked off to the islands,” he said.