British Columbia regional carrier will move into a market vacated by other carriers
Pacific Coastal says new service to Kamloops will maintain a vital air service
Regional carrier Pacific Coastal is stepping into a void left by other airlines, adding service between Vancouver and Kamloops.
The carrier will launch service six days a week starting February 9, using 19-seat Beech 1900D aircraft.
“We want to ensure that the community of Kamloops maintains air service to Vancouver to support the movement of essential workers, time-sensitive cargo, and assist those travelling for medical appointments at this time,” said Johnathan Richardson, Vice President of Commercial Services. “Pacific Coastal Airlines is proud to expand the destinations we serve in the Thompson Okanagan region and we will deliver reliable, convenient, and affordable flights that customers value.”
Yesterday, Central Mountain Air announced it would withdraw the last remaining service between the two cities. CMA said it could no longer afford to fly money-losing routes. The carrier advised residents to lobby their local Members of Parliament to support the airline industry. Air Canada and Westjet have both suspended the route, though Westjet maintains a link between Kamloops and its Calgary hub.
Despite the decimation of air travel in Canada, Pacific Coastal has been spotting some opportunities.
Pacific Coastal suspended all operations on March 24 and has been systematically rebuilding its network since the summer. Kamloops is the airline’s second new service into the British Columbia interior this winter. Earlier this month, Pacific Coastal launched service to Penticton, in the heart of wine country, four day a week.
“We are delighted that Pacific Coastal Airlines will become our newest service partner at YKA,” said Kamloops mayor Ken Christian. “I encourage local residents to make use of this important connection to Vancouver for all their essential travel needs during this pandemic period and beyond.”
Delighted to welcome the return of @PacificCoastal to #YKA connecting travellers to/from #YVR via @yvrairport It’s an important route for our community, for essential travel and beyond as we manage through #COVID.— Kamloops Airport (@KamloopsAirport) January 20, 2021
It’s a rare bit of reconnection between cities. Across the country, towns and cities are finding themselves increasingly cut off from the rest of the world. Residents of such places as Sydney, Nova Scotia, Gander, Newfoundland, and High Level find themselves with long drives to the closes airport.
Minister acknowledges a ‘challenging time’
Canada’s new Transport Minister, Omar Alghabra, tweeted Wednesday about the dire situation in aviation.
“I am aware of the challenging time the airline sector and airports are facing because of COVID,” he said.
1/2 I am aware of the challenging time the airline sector & airports are facing because of COVID & travel restrictions. Our govt is committed to working with the industry to offer support that will include protection of jobs, restoration of regional routes & passenger refunds. pic.twitter.com/MRUp7xzlk0— Omar Alghabra (@OmarAlghabra) January 20, 2021
At the same time, it’s not clear that Alghabra is fully in charge of Canada’s transportation policy. In mandate letters released this month, the Prime Minister told Alghabra not to lead, but to “work with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry and the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and with the support of the Special Representative for the Prairies, on measures for the air travel sector.” That’s a lot of masters.
The government also actively discourages air travel, a message Alghabra amplified Tuesday.
“I call on all Canadians to cancel all discretionary travel, as we work to protect the health of Canadians and reduce the spread of COVID19,” Alghabra said on Twitter.
“As the Prime Minister said, we are currently considering options to further restrict travel,” he tweeted. “These new measures could be introduced with short notice.”
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