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Seaglider developer looks into launching a transportation network in Hawaii

A rendering of a seaglider bearing Mokulele Airlines’ logo is shown. Boston company Regent says it’s looking into the feasibility of a seaglider transportation network in Hawaii. Routes are pending the results of a study and all appropriate approvals. Rendering courtesy of Regent

The Maui News

A Boston company working to develop all-electric seagliders is exploring the possibility of bringing a seaglider transportation network to Hawaii.

Regent announced Monday that it’s partnering with Pacific Current, a Hawaii-based sustainable energy solution provider, to jointly fund a seaglider feasibility study that will focus on the economic, environmental and community benefits of introducing seagliders for inter- and intraisland travel in Hawaii.

“We’re thrilled to help push the boundaries of innovation in clean transportation for the state,” Billy Thalheimer, CEO and co-founder of Regent, said in a news release. “We recognize that Hawaii is a special place, with a sacred culture, sensitive environmental ecosystems and unrivaled biodiversity. The feasibility study continues our commitment to engage with local communities, civic organizations and all appropriate private and public sector leaders to understand how seagliders can help improve the daily lives of the residents.”

Mokulele Airlines, owned by Southern Airways, would serve as the Hawaii launch partner for Viceroy, Regent’s 12-passenger seagliders currently in development.

“The Regent seaglider is a complete game changer for the State of Hawaii,” Mokulele CEO Stan Little said. “Not only can this vehicle help the state meet its sustainability and resiliency goals more quickly, but this will enable our airline to offer new services that aren’t possible today. The seaglider network gives us the ability to stand up a fast, convenient affordable transportation solution that will not require passengers to have to go to an airport. Just imagine going from Kona Harbor to downtown Honolulu in less than 55 minutes door to door.”

Honolulu-based research firm SMS Research will look at the benefits and challenges associated with introducing seagliders to the state, according to Regent. The study will focus on the economic impact to the state as well as how seagliders can help advance affordability and accessibility of transportation, including assessing the impact of adding new routes and services to improve access for underserved communities. The study will also include a detailed analysis of various ports and harbors led by EKNA Services, a Honolulu-based engineering and construction management firm.

Scott Valentino, president of Pacific Current, said the company hopes “to enable local service providers in passenger, freight and emergency services lower the price of passenger travel, and the costs of moving goods and services throughout the State.” Through the partnership with Regent, local operators would have access to vehicle leasing and financing solutions from Pacific Current as well as dock and charging infrastructure that will map to important inter- and intraisland commercial routes, the news release said.

Regent launched a community listening tour last summer to discuss residents’ needs, the unique ecosystems of the region and Hawaii’s sustainability and resiliency goals, according to the company. Hawaii is making a push toward 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

“The Hawaii State Energy Office appreciates the advance work that Regent has done to reach out to community stakeholders, cultural partners, marine conservationists, environmentalists and State and County government representatives,” said Hawaii Chief Energy Officer Scott Glenn. “Reducing the carbon footprint of aviation is integral to achieving our state’s renewable energy goals and we appreciate that Regent is working with communities on this effort.”

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