Pacific Coastal Airlines returns to service on June 1, but not on Haida Gwaii

Airline president says they will only resume service on Haida Gwaii with ‘support of the community’

Pacific Coastal Airlines has confirmed their partial return to service on June 1 does not include Haida Gwaii.

The B.C. airline announced on May 11 that it would be resuming service on June 1 on a reduced schedule with “enhanced safety practices.”

“Our intention is to help provide air service for essential service workers, move important goods and cargo, provide access for customers who need to travel for various medical appointments (unrelated to COVID-19) and continue to offer remote communities access to the essential service of air travel should they require it,” the announcement said.

The reduced schedule includes service between Vancouver and the communities of Victoria, Powell River, Bella Coola, Trail, Williams Lake, Comox, Campbell River, Port Hardy, Bella Bella and Tofino, as well as service between Victoria and the communities of Kelowna and Cranbrook.

ALSO READ: Remote First Nation on B.C.’s central coast asking non-essential travellers to stay away

Airline president Quentin Smith told the Observer that he would like to return to service on Haida Gwaii, however, the company is aware of the ongoing state of local emergency enacted by the Council of the Haida Nation on March 23 and will not return until it has “the approval and support of the community.”

“I completely respect the decisions they make and the struggles they’re going through right now,” Smith said. “Right now there’s no plan to resume. We’d like to, but only when the time is right and the community is ready for us.”

He added that a conference call is planned with local leaders sometime this week.

“As it evolves we’ll certainly be sharing information.”

On March 18, Pacific Coastal Airlines announced a temporary suspension from March 25 until May 3, which was later extended to May 31 due to COVID-19 and the provincial state of emergency.

ALSO READ: Pacific Coastal Airlines suspending operations due to COVID-19 outbreak

On March 23, Air Canada had also suspended flights between Vancouver and Sandspit as part of the company’s global curtailment of flights in response to government travel restrictions and border closures.

According to the Air Canada website at the time of publication, flights to Sandspit were still suspended until June 30.

ALSO READ: Air Canada and others suspend flights until June as sector slammed by COVID-19

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