How Ocean Flyer CEO hopes 'game-changing' seaglider will help communities cut off by extreme weather events

New Zealand start-up Ocean Flyer is one step closer to providing a new emission-free travel option for Kiwis.

The fully electric seaglider travels just above the water's surface and they have big hopes the glider will help communities cut off after extreme weather events.

The part-ferry, part-plane could be the future of emissions-free transport in Aotearoa.

"It's a game-changer," said Ocean Flyer CEO Shah Aslam. "We're introducing fast, sustainable, affordable transport."

Ocean Flyer met up with companies interested in the new transport mode in Rhode Island, United States, on Friday.

Aslam said it went "very well".

"The biggest thing we saw at the launch on Friday was the full-scale mockup."

The seagliders will work similarly to some public transport models. Aslam said you can either buy your ticket in advance, or you can show up at the terminal if there's a seat available. You then buy your ticket, jump in, and away you go.

How Ocean Flyer CEO hopes 'game-changing' seaglider will help communities cut off by extreme weather events
Photo credit: Ocean Flyer

Aslam was in Napier when Cyclone Gabrielle cut off the region. He hopes the Ocean Flyer will reconnect communities when roads and planes are no longer options 

"In some of these regions where you can't have an aircraft land, your next best option is the seaglider," he said. 

"When you look at the regional connectivity and what it could do for the community of those regions, it is significant."

Whangārei Mayor Vince Cocurullo welcomes this new mode of transport.

"In Northland, we had one major road which comes into Northland. We had one rail line which comes into Northland."

He's also keen to go for a ride.

"I'm looking forward to taking the first flight."

The company has had positive talks with the Government and Maritime New Zealand.

Testing of the full-size prototype begins next year and they're looking to have seagliders zooming across our waters in 2025.