How Alberta’s oilsands traffic fuelled a Vancouver Island travel perk

There’s a new 35-minute evening flight between YVR and the Comox Valley airport.

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Heading home to the Island after weeks toiling near Fort McMurray, the last thing workers want is to get stuck in Vancouver after a missed connection.

But for the hundreds of Island workers who commute to work in the northern Alberta oil industry, that was often the reality.

A new evening flight to Comox and Campbell River from the Vancouver International Airport south terminal eased those commuting concerns.

On April 2, Pacific Coastal Airlines added a 35-minute 9 p.m. flight, connecting travellers from the south terminal to Comox Valley. From there, it’s a quick hop to Campbell River Airport where travellers are home by 10 p.m.

The cabin of the 19-seat Beechcraft 1900C, flying the skies nightly from Sunday through Friday, was almost full on its inaugural flight. But it turns out it wasn’t only oilsands commuters filling those seats.

Commuters and vacationers also hop on board

The 9 p.m. takeoff also saw vacation travellers and day-trippers heading home after a day of business meetings or shopping in Vancouver.

By all accounts, regardless of the reason for travel, the new, later flight is a great solution for those connecting from other flights, or enjoying a full day on the mainland – eliminating the need to overnight or take the long drive home after catching the last ferry.

Pacific Coastal’s commitment

The expansion of service to Comox and Campbell River speaks to Pacific Coastal’s commitment to B.C.’s coastal communities.

“We’ve been providing regularly scheduled service to the Campbell River and Comox airports for many years and the addition of these new later evening flights is a reflection of our continued commitment to the people who live and work in these, and other mid-island communities,” says Pacific Coastal Airlines’ president Quentin Smith. “As an airline with deep roots in British Columbia, we understand the importance of these connections to the overall economic development of the region.”

Founded by one-time truck logger Daryl Smith in Bella Coola more than 50 years ago, Pacific Coastal is based at the YVR south terminal in Richmond. It provides regularly scheduled flights and cargo services to 15 airports and connects to more than 65 destinations in British Columbia in conjunction with its affiliate partner Wilderness Seaplanes in Port and charter services across western Canada and the U.S.

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