Pacific Coastal

Pacific Coastal to ground its fleet

A Pacific Coastal Beech 1900C lands at Vancouver International Airport. The airline announced it would suspend operations until May (photo: Brett Ballah).

Regional Canadian carrier Pacific Coastal has announced it will suspend operations starting March 24 and resume May 3, if conditions allow.

“This was a difficult, but necessary decision to take,” says Pacific Coastal Airlines’ President Quentin Smith in a statement issued late Thursday.

The move leaves a number of communities in British Columbia, such as Comox on Vancouver Island, Powell River on the Sunshine Coast, and Masset on Haida Gwaii, without air service for the month of April. Pacific Coastal’s move comes after Air Canada announced it would suspend service to six B.C. communities for the month of April.

“Given the rapidly deteriorating situation and the need to be socially responsible during this State of Emergency, we have no other choice than to take this drastic step to protect the health and safety of our employees, the public, and the financial stability of our airline.”

Pacific Coastal, a privately owned airline, is the largest user of Vancouver International Airport’s South Terminal, and the third-busiest airline at the airport in terms of departures. It operates a fleet of Beech and Saab aircraft to 16 airports in B.C..

Most of its destinations are smaller communities, some of which have issued advisories for non-residents not to visit.

Pacific Coastal also operates a small but growing fleet on behalf of Westjet Link. The carrier said it would continue those flights, based on Westjet’s decisions. Westjet said Thursday it would continue domestic service to all of its current airports, but at a reduced frequency.

The announcement is one more indication of the rapid deterioration of demand for air travel as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Tuesday, Pacific Coastal announced it would delay the launch of a new route between Victoria and Tofino, while vowing to maintain service from Vancouver to the Island.

Two days later, the plug was being pulled on the whole operation.