Japan city revives hovercraft service

Image from griffonhoverwork.com
Image from griffonhoverwork.com

The Oita Prefecture government is on track to restart next year a passenger hovercraft service shut down in 2009 with the recent delivery of the first of three such vessels ordered from the United Kingdom.

Oita officials held a ceremony for the arrival of the Griffon 12000TD from Griffon Hoverworks on 8 September.

The high-speed craft will resume a 15 nautical mile route between Oita Airport and downtown Oita. With its speed of 45 knots, the hovercraft trip will take half an hour compared to one hour by bus.

"Passengers can travel more quickly to and from the airport, and they can also take in the scenery from the vessel, such as the steam from Beppu hot spring resorts," a prefectural official told Yomiuri Shimbun.

Oita is one of only two hovercraft ferry operators in the world. The other, Hovertravel in the UK, also uses the same vessels from Griffon to link Ryde on the Isle of Wight with Southsea in Portsmouth.

Oita's three orders of 12000TD, which can carry 80 passerngers, are worth £25 million with the last hovercraft to be delivered before the end of 2024.

Daily Tribune