Whistler may not be next to the ocean, but the world’s largest all seaplane airline is happy to call it home to part of its fleet.
Harbour Air took ownership of Whistler Air as of May 1 this year and representatives from the company were in front of council last Tuesday (Aug. 21) at its committee of the whole meeting to provide an update.
Vice president of flight operations and safety Eric Scott said the company is pleased to be operating in the community and has no plans to change the business.
Scott said that includes keeping the same schedules, number of flights per day and the Whistler Air brand and name.
“We were excited to come to Whistler and continue what Whistler Air has and move forward,” he said.
Scott said the company has two seaplanes that routinely fly to and from Whistler to its operations in Vancouver and Victoria. There are no plans to expand the service from what currently exists, he added.
He said weather, and in particular winds, have been a challenge for the company and is the only reason flights are cancelled.
Vice president of sales and marketing Meredith Moll indicated that prior to Harbour Air taking over operations low passenger counts resulted in flight cancellations, but that has since changed.
“We would never cancel because of low loads,” Moll said. “Because of the different types of aircraft we have we are able to accommodate flights with lower passenger numbers.”
She said cancellations for weather and safety reasons have resulted in the airline flying on schedule over 50 per cent of the time.
A cancelled flight was the subject of a letter to the editor in The Question earlier in August and was brought up by Coun. Andrée Janyk at the meeting.
Moll said the company followed up with the dissatisfied customer several times. She added the company has bought a second passenger van to offer shuttle service to Vancouver and partnered with local transportation companies.
Moll said those efforts are to ensure when flights are cancelled passengers are provided alternative transit in a timely manner.
Scott explained because of the nature of business flights cannot be delayed, they must be cancelled and offering transportation exceeds what many other operators offer.
“When we cancel a shuttle is available, we don’t leave them high and dry,” he said.
Moll said the company looks forward to being more involved in the community. She said already it is working with Tourism Whistler to provide transportation for media fam trips.
“The first four months have been a bit of a learning phase,” she said. “We want to be more involved in the Whistler community and figure out how we can better serve the community.”
Whistler Air operates seasonally from May until mid to late October and as part of Harbour Air flies to Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo, Richmond, the Gulf Islands and Sechelt, Comox.