Ocean Flyer signs MOU with Northport and Northland Inc.
Northport Chair Murray Jagger (left), Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam (centre) and Northland Inc Chair Nicole Anderson, cutting cake.
We’re thrilled to share the news that Ocean Flyer has signed a Memoranda of Understanding with Northport and Northland regional economic development agency Northland Inc at an event at Marsden Cove Marina last week.
Northport Chair Murray Jagger (left), Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam (centre) and Northland Inc Chair Nicole Anderson, sign Memoranda of Understanding.
The agreements could make Whangārei the first destination in its network.
The agreement with Northport covers the design and development of the infrastructure needed to operate an Ocean Flyer service from Whangārei. Northland Inc will support Ocean Flyer and Northport in engagement with the community, local authorities and businesses, helping Ocean Flyer to establish operations and generate benefits for the Northland region.
Unveiling of 1/20th-scale Ocean Flyer model seaglider.Unveiling of 1/20th-scale Ocean Flyer model seaglider.
Ocean Flyer's seagliders are a new mode of transport that will float, foil and fly. They travel at about 10 metres above the waves and use a phenomenon called in-ground effect to reduce drag and increase range. Ocean Flyer is importing 25 seagliders made by United States firm REGENT. The first tranche of five will arrive in New Zealand from 2026.
The Ocean Flyer route network will ultimately link coastal centres like Whangārei with Auckland. Chief executive Shah Aslam said it will provide improved connections between Auckland and regional New Zealand that are fast, affordable and sustainable.
Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam announces the three-way partnership between Ocean Flyer, Northport and Northland Inc, to bring prosperity to the Northland region.
“We’ve seen in recent times the havoc that bad weather can create with our transport infrastructure,” he said. “Northland wasn’t the only region to have been cut off completely by road and rail. Our seaglider connections will add an important extra layer of robust connectivity to New Zealand’s transport infrastructure.”
“Better connections enable regional economic development which, in turn, leads to greater economic prosperity and wellbeing through better access to services and facilities,” Mr Aslam said. “Both Northport and Northland Inc understand this perfectly, having been leading the call for enhanced transport links between Northland and Auckland for many years.”
Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam in conversation with Marsden Maritime Holdings Director Benoit Marcenac.
The electric seagliders will cost considerably less to operate than a comparable aircraft, resulting in an affordable seat price.
Ocean Flyer’s investment in Northland extends beyond including Whangārei in its route network. It envisages a headquarters, a training centre and a seaglider haul-out and maintenance facility elsewhere in the area.
Northland Inc Chair Nicole Anderson speaking about the positive economic impacts which will result from better regional connectivity provided by Ocean Flyer.
Northland Inc chief executive Paul Linton said a new connection would offer Northland residents and businesses fast and affordable travel options not currently available by air, and which would otherwise involve lengthy road journeys that emit greenhouse gasses.
“Such a service would improve supply chains, reduce downtime in businesses and enhance efficiency and productivity without adding to road congestion or greenhouse gas emissions,” Mr Linton said.
Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam welcomes Northland Regional Council Chair Tui Shortland (Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Wai, Te Rarawa).
The seagliders will be able to operate in most conditions,” Mr Aslam said. “Our advanced avionics and the fact that we’ll be only a few metres above the surface of the water mean that we’d be able to operate in conditions that frequently impact flights between Whangārei and Auckland.”
Ocean Flyer’s seagliders will be regulated and certified by Maritime New Zealand. The company has produced a series of videos, available on its website, that address commonly-asked questions about seaglider technology and safety.
Ocean Flyer plans to start operations with REGENT’S 12-seater Viceroy model. This has 12 electric motors and a crew of two pilots. At a later stage it will introduce 10 Monarch vehicles, each with 100 seats.
Northport Chair Murray Jagger shares vision for greater regional connectivity.
Northport chief executive Jon Moore said the service Ocean Flyer was proposing meshed perfectly with Northport’s objective of providing better infrastructure and services for Northland.
“We have always played an important role in enhancing Northland’s connectivity and economic resilience,” Mr Moore said. “This Ocean Flyer initiative is bold and innovative. Like us, they are inspired by a vision of what is possible. A Vision for Growth. We are delighted to do everything we can to help the company realise these ambitions and make Whangārei one of the first destinations in its network.”
Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam in conversation with Far North District Councillor Penetaui Kleskovic.
Northport terminal facilities manager Greg Blomfield joined the Ocean Flyer team at the launch of REGENT’s first full-size seaglider in the United States in April.
REGENT CEO Billy Thalheimer congratulates Ocean Flyer, Northport and Northland Inc on the partnership via a video message.
Ocean Flyer was founded by Shah Aslam, who owns Air Napier, and former Royal New Zealand Air Force chief John Hamilton. The company considered using electric planes but chose seagliders because they would be certified to operate much earlier. The infrastructure was also more affordable, requiring a terminal space on the coast with a pontoon rather than an airport, and it was more efficient to operate at 10 metres above the water than having to fly up to 6,000 metres.
Ocean Flyer Operations Director John Hamilton, with Ocean Flyer model seaglider.
ABOUT OCEAN FLYER
Ocean Flyer signed a historic $700m agreement in April 2022 with REGENT to bring 25 seagliders to New Zealand. Ocean Flyer is the first seaglider-only company setup in the world to bring sustainable, fully electric, fast, affordable and comfortable new mode for mass public transport.
Ocean Flyer is committed to connecting communities across the motu, tackling climate change, and building a more resilient and affordable transport network for everyone.
Northport is a deep-water commercial port situated at Marsden Point near Whangarei in Northland, New Zealand. Northport is the country’s northernmost multi-purpose port and the closest to most of New Zealand's international markets, served by a good road connection to the country’s State Highway network and located less than two hours from Auckland, New Zealand’s main city and commercial hub.
Northport is New Zealand’s newest port, designed and built as a flexible, multi-purpose facility to cater for a wide range of cargoes and their associated vessel types. And with 180 hectares of immediately-available ‘green field’ commercially-zoned land adjacent to the port boundary, they have a lot to offer importers and exporters looking for room to grow.
ABOUT NORTHLAND INC
Northland Inc is Northland's economic development agency. As a council-controlled organisation, their mahi encompasses the Regional Tourism Organisation and central government’s Regional Business Partner Network, as well a range of initiatives designed to deliver economic and social benefits across the region.
Their team works alongside communities, iwi and hapu, businesses and investors to identify initiatives that will strengthen, diversify, and grow Taitokerau Northland’s economy to help achieve equity and environmental sustainability. Northland Inc's ambition is a prosperous and thriving Taitokerau Northland economy that respects all people, past, present and future, and cares for the environment we all share.