Additional flights within BC expected in time for holidays: Fleming

Dec 9 2021, 10:09 pm

Airlines are working to add additional flights within BC for the holidays, as the non-essential travel order remains in effect.

At an update on Thursday afternoon, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming detailed some of the efforts that were underway. Currently, only essential travel is allowed on a stretch of Highway 99 as well as a key passageway of Highway 3.

“We know, especially in a year like this one, people want to see their loved ones this holiday season,” he said. “And we’re doing what we can to support you.”

Melanie Mark, Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport, and her staff have been working with companies and airlines to create safe, alternative travel options for the holiday season.

“Airlines have come to the table to get people to where they need to go without impacting traffic levels on our roadways,” Flemming says. “An increase in air travel options will be coming online as airlines work to increase capacity from Vancouver and Abbotsford airports into the interior.”

In addition to flights, the non-essential travel restrictions will be updated to allow for bus services to operate. Leisure-based travel on the affected highways was also discouraged.

Air Canada is responding by adding extra aircraft, servicing airports in Kamloops and Kelowna, and introducing a price cap on flights, Fleming added.

WestJet tells Daily Hive that they’ve added extra capacity and are using larger aircraft to accommodate the increased demand and ensure that seats are available. The airline also says that it has temporarily reduced walk-up and online flight prices by over 50% on impacted routes.

“There are a lot of carriers that are looking at adding flights, so those things will be updated online,” Flemming says.

Highway 1 could reopen sooner than expected

It was also announced on Thursday that the Coquihalla Highway is expected to reopen for essential travel in early January. When that happens, Highway 3 will change its status from essential-only to allowing for recreational travel.

Additionally, Highway 1 could be ready for some vehicles by the middle of January.

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