By Kathy Michaels, Global News | December 14, 2021
Connectivity between the Okanagan and Lower Mainland is starting to improve, B.C.’s Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Monday, as road crews work to repair major highways damaged in the November storms.
Fleming said crews had made significant progress on the Coquihalla Highway over the weekend and by Wednesday, the province will be able to offer a better idea of when the route will reopen again for commercial trucks.
That potentially could be during the holiday season, but Fleming couldn’t say when.
He also said the provincial government is working with the airline industry on expanded regional routes.
“I noticed today that WestJet confirmed increased flights to Kelowna from Abbotsford and we are hearing other carriers expanding their schedule,” he said.
“Both WestJet and Air Canada also announced price caps on those flights and added service in their offering to people travelling over the holidays. So this is all very good news and we appreciate the airline industry flying aircraft to help people safely travel, friends and family, visit different parts of the province over the holiday season.”
Michael J. Ballingall, senior vice-president with Big White ski resort, said he has been watching news about both air and road travel closely since storms shut down the route to the Lower Mainland.
He said he has yet to see evidence of these increased flights, but that he knows more carriers are working through the logistics of creating flights for both Kamloops and Kelowna because there is “huge pent-up demand.”
“We have a commitment from Air North, Swoop, WestJet and Air Canada that they look at adding extra capacity in Kelowna and Kamloops every day,” Ballingall said.
“We’re hoping with more air capacity we will see the price come down in air travel.”
Whether that will help Big White recoup some of the bookings lost in time for the holidays remains to be seen.
Currently, he said, people are still cancelling for the holidays, and air travel isn’t always the first choice for those looking forward to a ski week.
Rather, he said, people who live in the Lower Mainland and had thought of travelling to the mountain are debating driving the route through the U.S., up Highway 97, and coming up again through Osoyoos.
In response to flooding that disrupted transportation supply chain network in the province
586 tonnes of additional capacity added into and out of YVR, an increase of 45% over originally planned levels
Air Canada Express Dash 8-400 aircraft being converted into special freighter configuration to transport cargo
MONTREAL, Nov. 22, 2021 /CNW Telbec/ – Air Canada announced today that it has significantly increased cargo capacity into and out of Vancouver between November 21 and 30 from its hubs in Toronto, Montreal and Calgary as it works to ensure that the vital economic supply chain links in British Columbia are maintained following the impacts of last week’s flooding. In total, Air Canada is adding 586 tonnes of cargo capacity, representing 3,223 cubic metres to support B.C.’s economic supply chain and the needs of its communities. The additional capacity is equivalent in weight to approximately 860 adult moose.
“The economic supply chain is vital, and to help support the urgent transport of goods into and out of British Columbia, we have increased capacity to our YVR hub by using the flexibility of Air Canada’s fleet to reschedule 28 passenger flights from narrow-body aircraft to be operated with wide-body Boeing 787 Dreamliners, Boeing 777, and Airbus A330-300 aircraft. These changes will allow an additional 282 tonnes of goods to be moved across the country on our scheduled passenger flights,” said Jason Berry, Vice President, Cargo, at Air Canada.
“Additionally, Air Canada Cargo will operate an additional 13 all-cargo flights between our Toronto, Montreal and Calgary cargo hubs and YVR using widebody aircraft, providing approximately 304 tonnes of additional capacity. These aircraft will help move mail and perishables such as seafood, as well as automotive parts and other industrial goods,” concluded Mr. Berry.
Air Canada is also working with its regional partner Jazz Aviation to provide additional regional cargo capacity by temporarily converting an Air Canada Express De Havilland Dash 8-400 from its normal passenger configuration into a special freighter configuration. This Dash 8-400 Simplified Package Freighter operated by Jazz can carry a total of 18,000 lbs. (8,165 kg) of cargo and will be deployed to transport critical goods, as well as consumer and industrial goods and will be in service as early as this week.
Last week, as the impact of the devastating floods became apparent, Air Canada quickly added capacity to the Air Canada Cargo network by substituting larger widebody aircraft on 14 passenger flights into Vancouver.
Additional capacity added for passengers
In addition to the extra cargo capacity, Air Canada had also increased the number of seats available for customers in Kelowna and Kamloops since November 17, adding approximately 1,500 seats into both communities by utilizing larger aircraft on routes. This enabled people affected by the highway closures to fly into and out from these airports, and through the cargo capacity of these passenger aircraft, also allowed for the important transport of emergency medical supplies into these regions.
Air Canada continues to monitor the situation in British Columbia very closely and will adjust its passenger and cargo schedule accordingly.
About Air Canada
Air Canada is Canada’s largest domestic and international airline, and in 2019 was among the top 20 largest airlines in the world. It is Canada’s flag carrier and a founding member of Star Alliance, the world’s most comprehensive air transportation network. Air Canada is the only international network carrier in North America to receive a Four-Star ranking according to independent U.K. research firm Skytrax. In 2020, Air Canada was named Global Traveler’s Best Airline in North America for the second straight year. In January 2021, Air Canada received APEX’s Diamond Status Certification for the Air Canada CleanCare+ biosafety program for managing COVID-19, the only airline in Canada to attain the highest APEX ranking. Air Canada has also committed to a net zero emissions goal from all global operations by 2050.
From City News 1130 – link to source story – Thank PM
BY CLAIRE FENTON | Posted Aug 4, 2021
WestJet has added additional flights to deal with a major backlog caused by wildfire smoke in recent days
Dozens of flights were cancelled in several airports because of unsafe conditions caused by the nearby wildfires
Passengers who can’t get on a flight will also have the option of taking a bus from Kamloops, Penticton or Kelowna
KELOWNA (NEWS 1130) — WestJet has added flights to allow air travel out of the wildfire-ravaged Interior to resume. But with the backlog in cancelled flights, it is expected to take a while before everyone can get back home.
Cancellations were made Monday and Tuesday, with most affected flights operated either by Air Canada or WestJet.
Philip Elchitz with Kelowna International Airport explained Tuesday that BC Wildfire Service placed a “no-fly zone” in the vicinity of the fire. That zone is also right above the instrument approach into Kelowna International.
However, in an update Wednesday, Elchitz says winds are favourable, but he warns conditions could change.
“The smoke is still pretty thick. We’re seeing about five miles of visibility right now at the airport. That’s certainly better than the half-mile visibility we had over the last couple of days. But we’d like to see that improve over the next few days as well.”
He says he understands that passengers are frustrated, and weather permitting, flights should be back to normal soon.
“People have been very resourceful. But there has been a fair amount of frustration and anxiety.”
Passengers who can’t get on a flight Wednesday will also have the option of taking a bus from Kamloops, Penticton or Kelowna.
“We’re expecting it to be hour by hour,” Elchitz said of whether flights would resume Tuesday, adding “that’ll completely depend on the behaviour of the wildfire and our ability to work with the B.C. fire service.”
He explains the BC Wildfire Service places a “no-fly zone” in the vicinity of the fire. That zone is also right above the instrument approach into Kelowna International.
“Because of that no-fly zone, we can’t have any aircraft flying the instrument procedures into the airport, and as a result of that, the pilots aren’t able to shoot the approach into the facility,” he said.
According to Elchitz, the visibility at the airport was about 3/4 of a mile Monday afternoon.
Over the past several days, wildfire smoke forced the Penticton airport to cancel many of its flights, forcing many to find other options. As of 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, the only flight arriving that same morning — the 10:15 a.m. from Calgary — had been cancelled. Another flight, for later in the day, was still listed as “On Time.”
But starting at 3:00 p.m., flights for roughly 8,000 passengers trying to make their way out of Kelowna will resume.
Phillip Elchitz with the Kelowna Airport says the BC Wildfire Service has been able to condense its ‘no-fly zone’ around a nearby fire, allowing flights to resume in and out of Kelowna.
Elchitz does warn that plans could change if the nearby fire forces a re-expansion of the no-fly zone.
“If there is an expansion of the White Rock Lake fire to the east, it’ll close our approaches again so we’re really just monitoring the wildfire situation, and we’re hopeful that the fire will hold at its current location.”
Targeted Government of Canada support will be provided by Western Economic Diversification Canada
VANCOUVER, BC, July 30, 2021 /CNW/ – Regional air transportation is crucial to ensure merchandise circulates, supply chains are maintained, and regional economic growth continues. The pandemic has had major impacts on regional air transportation ecosystems, affecting economies, communities, and local businesses.
The Government of Canada’s Regional Air Transportation Initiative (RATI), launched in March 2021, fosters access to air transportation and supports regional ecosystems. In particular, it enables regional air carriers and airports to remain operational in these difficult times and to continue to contribute to regional economic growth, while adapting to new post-COVID-19 realities and requirements.
B.C. airports to benefit from funding
With this in mind, Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (B.C.), on behalf of the Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada, announced $11,721,721 in RATI funding for 11 regional airports in B.C.
This funding will enable these airports to overcome challenges that were brought on by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Regional air transportation is key to the economic development of communities and businesses across Canada. Since it helps draw Canadians to rural and remote communities to work and raise their families, while also providing reliable connectivity with urban centres, it plays a crucial role in a just, inclusive recovery for all, throughout the country.
“It is important to protect our regional air transportation for the thousands of workers employed by this sector and for the many businesses and communities that depend on it. Air connectivity makes our regions accessible to Canadians who want to settle there and is key in moving our businesses’ products to their destination markets. That’s why, as part of our plan for a strong economic recovery, our government supports this connectivity, indispensable to healthy, inclusive growth.”
– The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, and Minister responsible for Western Economic Diversification Canada
“Regional airports and infrastructure are critical components of the B.C. economy, both for trade and for the travel that many Canadians are starting to look forward to as we emerge from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This funding will go a long way towards getting these assets back on their feet and ready to deliver on the needs of British Columbians as we look towards a brighter future.”
– Terry Beech, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard and to the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages (B.C.)
“Victoria International Airport is a vital economic generator for the Greater Victoria Region. The pandemic has been financially devastating to the airport industry and aviation sector as a whole. This funding announcement is welcome news which will assist YYJ to reinstate lost air service, attract new air service, build passenger demand, and continue to operate a safe and efficient airport with world class safety and health standards. Air connectivity is a key to economic prosperity and we look forward to help building back the visitor economy.”
– Geoff Dickson, President and CEO, Victoria Airport Authority
“We are grateful for this funding. It is essential to help continue our operations and ensure that we continue to be the gateway to Northern British Columbia. The Prince George Airport is a hub for not only passenger services but also medevac, RCMP, aerial search and rescue, and wildfire fighting services for Northern and remote communities.”
– Gordon Duke, President and CEO, Prince George Airport Authority
The Initiative supports regional air ecosystems—which include regional air carriers and airports, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises and non-profit organizations—in developing and implementing enhanced services for improved regional connectivity.
Kamloops Airport staff are reporting a 319 per cent increase in passenger volumes during the months of April, May, and June this year.
Data released today shows there were 7,932 passengers that passed through the terminal at YKA, up from just 2,489 during the same three months last year.
Most of those passengers (3,373) were in June when travel restrictions within the province were eased, as part of Step 2 of BC’s COVID Restart Plan, compared to 1,407 in 2020.
So far though six months of the year, there have been 17,122 passengers at Kamloops Airport.
In April, there were 2,506 passengers (compared to 493 in 2020) while in May there were 2,053 passengers (compared to 589 in 2020).
“Passenger numbers in the second quarter continue to reflect the negative impacts of the COVID 19 pandemic on the airline, aviation and tourism industries in Kamloops,” Kamloops Airport Managing Director Ed Ratuski said. “Passenger numbers are slowly starting to recover domestically as provincial travel restrictions ease and passengers take advantage of the increased frequencies and new services offered by WestJet, Air Canada, Central Mountain Air, and Pacific Coastal Airlines.”
“However, as travel restrictions and quarantine requirements remain in place for much of the country and limited relaxation of restrictions for transborder and international destinations , recovery to pre-pandemic passenger levels will remain slow.”
While masks are not mandatory in indoor spaces in B.C. as of July 1 as part of Step 3 of the COVID Restart Plan, Ratuski is reminding passengers that masks are mandatory during the security screening and in the boarding lounge at the airport, as well as onboard the aircraft.
“We also recommend that all persons entering the terminal wear a mask. Passengers will continue to have their temperature checked prior to boarding the aircraft and we recommend allowing additional time for check in and security screening processes,” he added.
“Hourly parking is currently free to encourage those dropping off or picking up passengers to remain outside the terminal or at their vehicles.”
With restrictions on travel within Canada eased as of July 1, passengers are also being encouraged to check in online to limit the need for direct contact with airline personnel while in the terminal.
Central Mountain Air is running non-stop flights from Vancouver to Vancouver Island, the Cariboo region, the Okanagan Valley, and Central B.C.
Kelowna, B.C.Central Mountain Air
Really want to make a great escape from the city but NOT looking forward to that long car ride in the hot summer heat? Opt to hop on a plane to your getaway spot instead!
Now that non-essential travel within B.C. is encouraged again, Vancouverites can book inter-provincial non-stop flights with Central Mountain Air for a quick and affordable way to get around the province this year.
Departing from the South Terminal at Vancouver International Airport (YVR), passengers can fly direct from Vancouver to Campbell River, Quesnel, Kamloops, Kelowna, and Prince George.
Then, from Prince George, you can also fly further up Northern B.C. with routes to Fort. St. John, Fort Nelson, and Terrace.
Campbell River, B.C. Photo: Central Mountain Air.
Here’s a quick primer of the cities that Central Mountain Air currently flies to from Vancouver.
On the east coast of Vancouver Island, the oceanside community of Campbell River and the Discovery Islands are renowned for its spectacular mountains, west coast woodlands, Elk Falls Provincial Park and Suspension Bridge, whale watching, and salmon fishing at Discovery Pier.
Located along a pivotal mining trail of the Cariboo Gold Rush, Quesnel is home to B.C. heritage spots such as the Alexander Mackenzie hiking trail and the original 1867 Hudson’s Bay Company Trading Post in Riverfront Park.
The sunny canyon city of Kamloops in B.C.’s Interior is a four-season playground with long summers for hiking, biking, and water adventures. Go kayaking on one of Kamloops’ 100+ lakes and embark on outdoor adventures at Sun Peaks Resort.
Located on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake, Kelowna is the Okanagan Valley’s largest city and is known for local vineyards and wineries, sandy beaches, surrounding provincial parks, and bustling downtown area — making it the perfect destination for urban and rural experiences.
The largest city in Northern B.C, Prince George is full of opportunities for outdoor recreation, from mountain biking through pristine rainforests to fishing in the endless network of streams, lakes, and rivers. It’s also the basecamp for venturing into Northeastern B.C. and Northwestern B.C. towards Fort St. John, Fort Nelson, and Terrace.
Fly with CMA! Photo: Central Mountain Air.
Connecting B.C. communities with ease and convenience since 1987, the independent Western Canadian airline is giving local B.C. residents a chance to go back to travelling and exploring their backyard.
And, to further ensure that you can book your flight with confidence, Central Mountain Air has extended their COVID-19 flexible booking and cancellation policy until July 31st for travel through to November 7th, so you can have peace of mind knowing you can make changes to your flight reservation if you need to.
Starting out the week with blue skies and added service at #YWG as @AirCanada brings back direct service from Winnipeg to @FlyYYC. As vaccination levels continue to climb, this familiar route will play a vital role in serving our community in the months ahead.
Airline to restart eight routes and inaugurate new flights between nine communitiesby early July
CALGARY, AB, June 25, 2021 /CNW/ – WestJet is further restoring British Columbia’s domestic and interprovincial connectivity with the restart of eight routes to and from destinations across Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario. The airline is also set to inaugurate 10 new routes by July 5, 2021. Full schedule details and resumption dates are outlined below.
“We continue to work towards the restoration of our pre-COVID domestic network to ensure that when our guests are ready to travel, we are there for them,” said John Weatherill, WestJet Chief Commercial Officer. “WestJet remains committed to building back stronger for the betterment of all Canadians and as we look ahead to reconnecting friends, family and loved ones, the safe restart of travel is essential to Canada’s economic recovery.”
WestJet’s investments are critical to ensuring British Columbia’s recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and by the end of June, the airline is set to inaugurate new flights between Abbotsford and Prince George and restore WestJet Link service between Vancouver and Cranbrook.
“As a leader in aviation, WestJet has been working with industry, tourism and business across the province to ensure their voices are being heard as we safely restart travel. We thank Premier Horgan and his government for prioritizing travel as a critical component of the government’s restart plan. While progress has been made in British Columbia, we continue to advocate for safe travel framework from the Government of Canada,” said Angela Avery, WestJet Executive Vice-President.
This July, WestJet will offer non-stop service from Vancouver to 18 cities, from Victoria to eight cities, from Kelowna to seven cities, from Comox to four cities and from Nanaimo to three cities. From the communities of Kamloops, Penticton and Prince George, the airline will connect to two communities non-stop.
Love Where You’re Going Again – WestJet’s Latest Video
For more than 17 months, Canadians from coast-to-coast have been separated from the people and places they love. WestJet’s latest brand moment is a reminder to Canadians that it’s time to love where they’re going, again.
British Columbia route restarts between now and June 30, 2021
Route restart date
Victoria – Winnipeg *
June 24, 2021
Kelowna – Regina *
June 24, 2021
Nanaimo – Vancouver
June 25, 2021
Nanaimo – Edmonton *
June 25, 2021
Comox – Vancouver
June 25, 2021
Kelowna – Saskatoon *
June 25, 2021
Kelowna – Victoria
June 25, 2021
Vancouver – Cranbrook
June 25, 2021
Abbotsford – Prince George *
June 25, 2021
Prince George – Calgary
June 25, 2021
Victoria – Ottawa *
June 26, 2021
Comox – Edmonton
June 26, 2021
Comox – Toronto *
June 26, 2021
Victoria – Saskatoon *
June 27, 2021
Victoria – Toronto
June 30, 2021
Penticton – Edmonton *
July 4, 2021
Kamloops – Edmonton *
July 5, 2021
Vancouver – Fort St. John
July 13, 2021
In 25 years of serving Canadians, WestJet has cut airfares in half and increased the flying population in Canada to more than 50 per cent. WestJet launched in 1996 with three aircraft, 250 employees and five destinations, growing over the years to more than 180 aircraft, 14,000 employees and more than 100 destinations in 23 countries, pre-pandemic.
Since the start of the pandemic the WestJet Group of Companies has built a layered framework of safety measures to ensure Canadians can continue to travel safely and responsibly through the airline’s Safety Above All hygiene program. During this time, WestJet has maintained its status as one of the top-10 on-time airlines in North America as named by Cirium.