Seaplane Hong Kong says it’s working with two international listed companies to bring a passenger drone service to Hong Kong, with testing to begin in late 2021.

Steven Cheung, founder and CEO of Seaplane Hong Kong, says the company has narrowed down one manufacturer for its “Urban Air Mobility” proposals, which could see a trip from Central to Kwun Tong take just six minutes, he says.

The company wouldn’t reveal the name of the manufacturer, nor the two companies backing the project. Images of a passenger drone used in the press releases were 3D renderings of an imaginary product.

Cheung admits the idea may be “a bit of a gimmick” for Hong Kong, but for cities where ground transportation is slow or unreliable the service could provide genuine benefits. “The transportation is already very efficient here in Hong Kong, but we aim to expand it to places like Jakarta, Manila, where the congestion is a big problem,” he says.

“We can land it anywhere, we’re looking at vacant sites,” he said, citing the area around the Central ferry piers and the Kai Tak cruise terminal.

Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department said it was aware of “recent interests to operate seaplanes and unmanned aircraft in Hong Kong,” but that all aircraft operations must meet regulatory requirements. A CAD spokeswoman said CAD had not received any application from Seaplane HK. “Any detailed proposal provided by the industry will be considered with due regard to international standards and the local environment,” she said.

The idea has support from lawmaker Gary Chan Hak-kan, who wrote a letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam suggesting “Hong Kong can be one of the first cities in the world to provide unmanned aerial mobility transportation.”

Seaplane Hong Kong aims to raise HK$100m via convertible notes to fund its drone, seaplane and “skyport” development plans across Asia. Cheung, a former airline pilot, launched the company in January 2021.

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