The regional airline picture continues to evolve in the Canadian province of British Columbia, with one airline relaunching essential service and a second deciding to ground its fleet due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harbour Air, which bills itself as North America’s largest float plane operator, announced Wednesday it would re-start three routes based on community demand for essential travel.
The airline cancelled all flights almost two weeks ago in response to the pandemic. While most of its schedule remains suspended, Harbour Air said it would re-establish minimal service between Vancouver Island and the mainland.
“With the announcement from other essential travel services that they are temporarily cancelling certain routes, we have received a flood of requests to assist,” the airline said in a statement on its website. “In particular, between Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast as well as Nanaimo and downtown Vancouver.”
Starting Monday, two planes will leave early in the morning operating one flight each way between Vancouver Harbour, Nanaimo, and the town of Sechelt. Harbour Air said will only use larger Otters on the run and block off 40% of the seats as a way to maintain physical distancing between passengers.
“Please note,” the airline said “these flights are to support essential travel for a community that now has limited options. We have opened up this service to support our front-line workers and essential travel. If you do not need to travel, please stay home.”
Passengers will be provided gloves and a mask, and be required to wear them for the duration of their flight.
At the same time, regional carrier Central Mountain Air announced it would suspend operations starting Monday until June 7.
“As we continue to address the unprecedented challenges the current COVID-19 health crisis presents, Central Mountain Air (CMA) is taking dramatic measures to protect our business, employees, customers and the larger communities we serve,” the airline said on its website.
The airline operates to 14 communities in British Columbia and Alberta, connecting destinations that likely would not have service otherwise.
CMA said it would continue to offer charter services.