MLA Dan Ashton is voicing his concern over an incoming halt to air service in Penticton.
Even with the pandemic having put severe restrictions on travel, he said there are still many people that rely on airlines to provide service, particularly to smaller or more rural communities.
For residents of the South Okanagan, and the Similkameen, it looked like they would be losing that service, and Ashton was among those concerned.
“Yes, I fully understand there’s a pandemic on; yes, I fully understand loads are down; yes, I understand that some companies are doing their best to preserve money, but the federal, provincial and even municipal and regional governments need to ensure the continuation of that air service,” said Ashton.
“When I look at people that have to get down to Vancouver to get to St. Paul’s Hospital for coronary care or cancer care or the B.C. Children’s Hospital, we need that service. And there are still people who are required to travel for work.”
Air Canada will be suspending their flights between Penticton and Vancouver as of Jan. 11, indefinitely due to “very low demand.”
Following Air Canada’s announcement, Pacific Coastal Airlines announced that they would be stepping in to fill the hole, starting up their own flights on Jan. 11 with their Beech 1900D aircraft.
Ashton was glad to hear that another airline had stepped in to fill the gap left by Air Canada, especially for a community that doesn’t have many options for flying.
“In Penticton, we have one airline that goes to the east, and one that goes to the west,” said Ashton. “I’m glad to hear that there will be service, but in my mind, the 1900D is not a substitute for the larger planes.”
Ashton said he hopes that either Air Canada reconsiders or Pacific Coastal arranges for one of their larger planes to take over the route.
“I really hope that Air Canada — this market has been very faithful to Air Canada, their loads have always been good, and I hope as quick as possible that they take another look at it.”
MP Dan Albas also aired his concerns about the announcement of Air Canada’s suspension during the official question period in Parliament on Dec. 8.
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