Aqualines : flying boats developed in the port of bayonne

Aqualines’ project is dedicated to the designing, production and operation of a Ground Effect Vehicle (GEV) that will serve as a high-speed maritime mobility solution. They aim to revolutionize the maritime passenger transport market/sector worldwide on sea routes between 300 and 500 km.

Created by three partners, including Guillaume Catala (CEO of investment fund Steinberg Protocol and a native of Saint Jean de Luz), this innovation is at the crossroads of the aviation and shipbuilding industries. The aim is to build flying ships with optimized carbon footprints, powered by hybrid electric/hydrogen engines.

The Aqualines SAS project consists of two phases:

An initial phase of R&D and construction of a full-scale prototype of an 8-seater model, which will serve for demonstration purposes. For this 30-month phase, an R&D workshop will be set up on the Quai Saint-Bernard in the Port of Bayonne, and will employ around thirty people.

A second phase will see the launch of production of the 3-seater model and development of the full-scale prototype. During this phase, an industrial assembly unit will be built in the Port of Bayonne

The basque country : a strategic location for aqualines

Aqualines’ location in the Port of Bayonne is particularly strategic for the company.

As well as being renowned for its aeronautical industry, the Basque Country also offers major geographical advantages for a company like Aqualines:

  • Proximity to the Adour river and the Biscarrosse seaplane base for testing purposes.
  • Proximity to Compositadour, ESTIA (Ecole supérieure des technologies industrielles avancées), and aeronautical subcontractors such as Groupe Lauak.
  • Proximity to the Aerospace Valley global competitiveness cluster based in Bordeaux and Bayonne.
  • Proximity to Spain, with the possibility of testing routes between Bayonne and Bilbao, for example.

The Basque Country, the wider Nouvelle Aquitaine region and the Aerospace Valley cluster make it easy for companies in the aeronautics industry to expand, thanks to regional support and a well-trained, qualified workforce. The area also boasts renowned engineering schools such as ESTIA, offering courses in IT, energy and mechanical engineering, mechatronics and electronics.

The presence of major international groups such as Optima Aero, a Canadian company specializing in the reconditioning of helicopter parts, attests to the attractiveness of our region for innovative companies in the aeronautical sector.

BASQUE INVEST : an asset for the establishment of aqualines in the basque country

After identifying the needs of the project, BASQUE INVEST’s Karlos Hébrard helped the Aqualines management team with various strategic aspects of their move to the Basque Country. First and foremost, the choice of location at the Port of Bayonne was crucial to the creation of their production facility.

Karlos supported them in the administrative phase, in particular in the application for authorization to carry out trials on the Adour and at its outlet, with the local authorities at the DDTM (Direction Départementale des Territoires de la Mer), as well as at Biscarrosse lake. 

Contacts were also made with Compositadour and the Lauak group, to identify potential collaborations and business diversification.

In addition, regular project meetings were held with elected officials and technicians from the Port of Bayonne, the Nouvelle Aquitaine region, the Bayonne Pays Basque Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Pays Basque Agglomeration Community, as well as with the Bayonne town council’s urban planning department, in order to manage the establishment, financing and launch of Aqualines’ activity in the Basque Country.

Cross-border opportunities were also proposed to help meet the needs of the project.

This project has been a definite success, with the company currently expanding with the launch of new innovative projects.