Passengers booking to fly with Pacific Coastal Airlines can expect temporary reductions to regularly scheduled service at the Anahim Lake Airport beginning Monday, April 6, 2020.
Due to a reduction in the airport’s available runway length that reduces takeoff weight for the airline’s Beechcraft 1900D, especially during warmer weather, Pacific Coastal said the number of flights are being reduced.
Weight restriction requires Pacific Coastal to curtail the number of seats it makes available to passengers at departure from Anahim Lake to the extent that maintaining its usual spring and summer schedule is not sustainable.
Responding Thursday, the Cariboo Regional District said Transport Canada closed an extension section of the runway on Jan. 29, 2020 and the CRD has since then submitted a request to have the restriction removed.
The regional district has received support from the Ulkatcho First Nation Chief and Council, the Anahim Lake RCMP detachment, tourism operator Bella Coola Heli Sports, and Pacific Coastal Airlines to have the temporary closure dealt with as soon as possible, manager of communications Emily Epp noted in a press release.
“The Anahim Lake airport is a vital transportation hub in the West Chilcotin and Central Coast, and Pacific Coastal Airlines is a key partner in providing flight service for the area,” noted Margo Wagner, CRD chair.
“We are optimistic Transport Canada will respond to our request for full runway access as soon as possible, so Pacific Coastal will not need to reduce services. This situation is too important to be delayed.”
The Anahim Lake Airport is owned by the CRD and operated by a local contractor. In addition to Pacific Coastal, many charter and private planes use the airport and the airport provide vital medical evacuation services to the area and support for the BC Wildfire Service during wildfire season.
“We have an excellent working relationship with the Cariboo Regional District and its airport operations group and appreciate that they are making every effort to resolve this as soon as possible,” said Pacific Coastal Airlines’ V.P. Commercial Services, Johnathan Richardson. “However, with no immediate solution in sight and with warmer weather on the way, we believe that offering this temporary service reduction is the best option available to us right now.”
Pacific Coastal intends to return to normal operations once the runway length and related takeoff weight is addressed.
In the meantime, Pacific Coastal is planning a phased-in approach to its temporary reduction of services at the Anahim Lake Airport.
Monday, April 6 to Friday, May 1 – schedule reduced to twice a week service on Mondays and Fridays only from Vancouver-Bella Coola-Anahim Lake-Bella Coola-Vancouver. Wednesday flights will be discontinued.
Sunday, May 3 forward – schedule reduced to once a week Saturday only service for Vancouver-Bella Coola-Anahim Lake-Bella Coola-Vancouver.
This article was updated Thursday with a response from the Cariboo Regional District.