Terrace-based airline Hawkair plans to start offering daily scheduled flights between the islands and Vancouver sometime next month.
That’s the word from Hawkair chief operating office Rod Hayward, who told the Observer the new service is tentatively scheduled to start up in mid-November.
At the moment, the company has not yet decided whether it will fly out of Masset or Sandspit, Mr. Hayward said.
But the following details are certain: the service will be daily, it will connect with Prince Rupert with at least one leg directly between Vancouver and the Charlottes, the plane will be a 37-seat Dash 8, and the lowest price will be $189 one way, including taxes and fees.
“It fits right in with that whole northwestern BC routing we have,” Mr. Hayward said. Hawkair already flies out of Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers, as well as Dawson Creek in the northeast, and just started offering service out of Grande Prairie, Alberta.
“We’ve talked about the Charlottes for a long time and we believe it’s right to start it now,” he said. He added that he believes Hawkair’s low prices will induce additional people to fly between the islands and Vancouver, rather than taking passengers away from Jazz or CWA, which also offer daily service to the Charlottes.
Hawkair will be able to offer passengers a low price combined with a relatively large plane with full snack and meal service, he said.
The tough part is deciding whether to use the Masset airport or the Sandspit airport. Mr. Hayward said he has heard from many enthusiastic Masset residents lobbying for their town, and he understands the inconvenience of taking the Kwuna ferry for Graham Island residents. However, he said, Sandspit may have a slight edge because the airport has a precision landing approach, making it easier to land in rough weather.
“A bunch of us in the company have experience flying in the Charlottes,” he said. “We understand the weather conditions.”
The company will probably make a decision by next week, he said.
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