Category Archives: Harbour Air
Above photo taken by Ken Swartz (via Erik Johannesson)
Harbour Air is expected to start offering direct seaplane service between downtown Vancouver and downtown Seattle next year — a move that would create a long-desired transportation link between the two urban cities and boost Vancouver’s emerging reputation as a technology hub.
Starting in early spring, Harbour Air and Washington-based Kenmore Air plan to offer four flights daily between downtown Vancouver’s Coal Harbour and Lake Union in downtown Seattle, near Amazon’s headquarters and a future Google campus. The companies will add flights as demand increase, said Harbour Air president Greg McDougall. “There’s a lot of interest in it, especially with the Cascadia corridor being created and the high-tech interaction between Vancouver and Seattle,” McDougall said after attending the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference in Seattle on Tuesday.
“We were down there and it was interesting to see how many people are interested in the high-tech relationships between the two cities, and Portland as well,” he said. “Creating a transportation link is a vital part in making all that work.” The service on the “nerd bird” means tech workers can shuttle between the two cities in less than an hour, bypassing long border waits or skipping the commutes to and from international airports that are located a drive away from the cities’ downtown cores.
Harbour Air is still working out details with the Canada Border Services Agency to set up a customs facility at the Coal Harbour terminal. Such a facility is already up and running in the Seattle end, which is used to service Kenmore flights between Seattle and Victoria. “We’re hopeful we’ll have that figured out early spring,” said McDougall. “Everything else is ready to go.”
Direct transportation links between Seattle and Vancouver have been a dream for proponents of Cascadia, and one McDougall believes is long overdue. “We feel confident the business is there. There’s enough people travelling back and forth to make it work.” The company was initially hesitant to pursue Vancouver-Seattle service, but getting support of companies such as Microsoft, as well as interest from Google and Amazon, gave them the confidence to launch the new route.
“We know Microsoft is only one of a quite a few different companies that have said this need. There are other high-tech companies who have said ‘can you start this because we need it,” said McDougall. “In aviation, when things are begging to get done, it’s still difficult but at least you have a fighting chance.” The route would also cater to tourists in the summer months. At the conference on Tuesday, Microsoft president Brad Smith stressed the need for better transportation links between Seattle and Vancouver.
The seaplane flights would be something that could be implemented quickly. “It’s clear the demand is there,” he said. “We at Microsoft have studied the flow back and forth of our own employees. Heck, we’re prepared to buy a bunch of tickets.”