Pacific Coastal Airlines will resume direct flights between Port Hardy and Vancouver on June 1.
To start, the local airline will offer Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning return flights. If demand is there, they can quickly increase flights.
“We didn’t see the need for a full schedule, but it was time to get some aircraft in the air to stimulate desire to travel again,” said president Quentin Smith.
Flyers range from tourists to business people to medical patients travelling for surgery.
“It’s hard to gauge what the first users will be,” Smith said. “As it comes into the summer, it’s usually a lot of tourists. We’re not sure if that’s going to exist anymore.”
The airline also flies to Bella Bella, but is not resuming passenger flights yet, as Bella Bella is still asking people to stay away because of the coronavirus.
People who do fly will notice a change in the airports and planes. Physical distancing means only passengers are allowed in airport terminals – greeters will have to stay outside. Masks and regular sanitizing will be the norm on aircraft.
Port Hardy Mayor Dennis Dugas is thrilled to see flights resuming.
“It’s a big asset to connect the north Island to the Lower Mainland,” he said. “On a business trip, if you have to drive down to Vancouver, that can turn into a three-day trip instead of a one-day with a flight. It’s just huge for us.”
Businesses in Port Hardy are starting to open again. Having a quick connection to the mainland will support their businesses as well, Dugas said, whether for chartered fishing trips, government staff or otherwise.
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