Pacific Coastal Airlines president Quentin Smith is the second-generation owner of the company and said the only certainty is uncertainty when it comes to knowing how the industry will bounce back from COVID-19. (Pacific Coastal Airlines photo)

Pacific Coastal Airlines to increase service to Williams Lake last week in July

Flights will increase from three a week to six a week

Since Pacific Coastal Airlines resumed service to Williams Lake in June, the company is seeing the amount of traffic ‘slowly’ grow and will be adding more flights later this month.

“We started with three flights a week, which we did for most markets, just to see what the demand was,” the company’s president Quentin Smith told the Tribune.

Starting July 26, there will be six flights a week into Williams Lake and Smith added they are responsive to adding more capacity if it is required.

Read more: Pacific Coastal to resume modified service on June 1

Prior to COVID-19 there were five flights a day into Williams Lake between Pacific Coastal and Central Mountain Air.

“We know the traffic did exist, but it’s a matter of how much will return over a matter of time,” Smith said.

To date Central Mountain Air (CMA) has not resumed its service to Williams Lake.

According to the CMA website, a list of scheduled flights dated from July 7 to Oct. 31, 2020, does not include Williams Lake or Quesnel.

As for COVID-19 measures, Smith said deep sanitizing and cleaning of the planes happens every evening and at every turn around during the day there is a wipe-down of the aircraft.

“We have Plexiglass screens at all the check-in counters, the majority of the airports are asking clients to social distance and only people that are travelling to come inside the buildings,” Smith said, adding they recognize that realistically a traveller may need the support of an additional person.

Everyone flying is required to wear a mask for the duration of the flight and during check-in and boarding sanitization items are provided to passengers.

Smith has been in the aviation business for 32 years and said in comparison to weathering recessions in the past, the COVID-19 pandemic came on very quickly.

At the beginning of March 2020, Pacific Coastal was looking at having one of its best first quarters in recent history but by the end of the month they were suspending all scheduled service on Pacific Coastal routes.

“We’ve been maintaining a little bit of charter work and some operation work with WestJet, but that was limited as well,” Smith said.

Over 500 people were laid off within the company, which has been a massive impact.

“That’s a lot of long-time employees with Pacific Coastal that rely on us for a livelihood,” he added.

Uncertainty persists, Smith said, noting nobody knows the future of air travel and whether there will be another outbreak of the virus.

Pacific Coastal is having a difficult time providing employees with any realistic timelines.

“It’s been a struggle. It’s not that we are trying to be secretive, but as the phrase goes, ‘the only certainty is uncertainty,’ and as I share with employees and others, there is no historical data to even project how an economy or the aviation industry returns after a pandemic.”

A second-generation owner of the company, Smith said his late father Daryl Smith, who died on Feb. 1, 2020, started his first airline business in Bella Coola in 1964.

The family moved to the Lower Mainland in 1968 when opportunities in the industry began to grow, but Smith spent the first four years of his life in Bella Coola.

Read more: Turbulence in Canadian opinion on airlines COVID-19 response: poll



news@wltribune.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Air TravelWilliams Lake

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Wells mining camp worker tests positive for COVID-19

A worker at a mining camp tested positive for the coronavirus after leaving the camp.

Downtown Williams Lake Art Walk 2020 opens Aug. 7

This year’s event features 27 businesses and 28 artists

Rodeo clinic, ranch visit entertains First Nations youth and elders in B.C.’s Interior

A fun time had for Stswecem’c Xgat’tem First Nation at C+ Rodeos

Studies show Mount Polley Mine breach material re-suspends in Quesnel Lake

High copper levels continue in Quesnel River six years after breach

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Two people die in propane heated outdoor shower near Princeton

Couple was attending a long weekend gathering

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

B.C. to allow customers to buy cannabis online for in-store pickup at private shops

Age verification will still be required inside the store

Interior Health expands COVID-19 testing access in Kelowna

First-come, first-serve, no-appointment-needed testing centre opens in downtown Kelowna

30% of British Columbians would ‘wait and see’ before taking COVID vaccine: poll

Some are concerned about side effects, while others don’t think the virus is a big deal

Don’t leave your hand sanitizer in the sun and other tips to stay COVID safe this summer

Being mindful of staying outside and keeping hand sanitizer, sunscreen out of the sun recommended

Most Read