Anyone wanting to travel to Vancouver from the West Kootenay by direct air won’t be able to do so for at least six weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Pacific Coastal Airlines is suspending flights to Vancouver – including those out of the Trail Regional Airport – by day-end on Tuesday.
This announcement came on the heels of Air Canada stating on Thursday that effective April 1, it is suspending direct flights to Vancouver from the airport in Castlegar.
The impact of COVID-19 on the health and safety of people and communities is extensive, and local businesses are now feeling its effects, Quentin Smith, president of Pacific Coastal Airlines stated March 20.
“The aviation industry has been particularly hard hit,” he said. “Due to the rapidly deteriorating situation and the need to be socially responsible during this State of Emergency, I am announcing that effective end of day Tuesday, March 24 we will implement a temporary suspension of all Pacific Coastal network operations.”
He said the airlines anticipates regular operations will resume on May 3.
Smith stressed this is a temporary measure only, and that the airline will continue to monitor the situation with the aim of re-establishing operations and recalling employees as soon as we are able.
“I recognize the impact this will have on the people and the communities we so proudly serve,” he said. “But given the rapidly deteriorating situation and uncertain future, we have no other choice but to take this drastic step to ensure the health and safety of our employees and the public, and the financial survival of our airline.”
There is at present no certainty on when the current situation will end, Smith added.
“In the meantime, I urge everyone to follow the important recommendations provided to you by credible health authorities on how to manage your personal health at this time.”
While Air Canada is suspending direct flights to Vancouver from the airport in Castlegar on the first of April, travelers can still reach the coastal destination by indirect flight.
Those heading to and from Vancouver will temporarily be routed through Calgary between April 1 and April 30, according to a City of Castlegar release.
Flights from Vancouver to Cranbrook are also being suspended for the same time period. Flights from Kelowna to Toronto and Edmonton are also affected.
The daily schedule for flights to and from Calgary remain the same.