40-year-old airline aims to bring ‘retro chic’ back to flying
CRANBROOK, B.C. – You can almost hear the Frank Sinatra tunes, hearkening back to an early, more pleasant time of flying as you walk onto the tarmac and step into the prop plane, waving to the pilot before finding your seat.
Once upon a time flying - when all planes had props - used to be a feel-good experience, making it seem like a real adventure for many travellers, says Kevin Boothroyd, director of sales and marketing for Pacific Coastal Airlines.
Pacific Coastal is trying to put some of the romance of that era back into flying.
Its latest edition to the fleet – a turbo propeller 30-seat Saab 340B - will be a cozy and comfy ride from Victoria direct to Kelowna.
The B.C.-based Pacific Coastal Airlines has connected communities throughout the province – for the past 40 years, bringing together big cities with small towns, industry with business, and recreation with relaxation.
“We’re retro chic,” says Boothroyd. Because we’re “all prop all the time” with its fleet of aircraft, he says travellers enjoy that throwback flying experience.
The airline was started in Bella Coola by one-time truck logger Daryl Smith and has grown to become the sixth largest airline operating at Vancouver International Airport -YVR (based on outbound seats), and third largest in takeoffs and landings.
“We’re kind of an iconic B.C. company; the only difference is that people don’t know us yet.”
This season, Pacific Coastal is connecting people with more than 20 ski destinations in B.C., departing from bigger cities such as Victoria and Vancouver and getting them closer to the best skiing in the province.
For more on flying to your next ski adventure, check out the official Pacific Coastal Airlines website.
Last year’s mild winter frustrated many skiers in the Lower Mainland and on south Vancouver Island, so there’s no doubt they’re hoping for a good year on the hills this year. To make their thirst for white ski conditions more convenient, Pacific Coastal can get skiers from Victoria to Kelowna in one hour. They can then easily connect with a shuttle that will drive them to the champagne powder.
Making a quick, affordable flight even better is not getting dinged for add-on fees like baggage.
“Not only are we providing a new non-stop service that’s convenient to skiers, we offer 50 pounds of free checked baggage for every fare.” That can be 50 pounds of pretty much anything, skis, boards, equipment, clothes, you name it.
Flying to your favourite B.C. ski destination is hassle-free and you don’t have to worry about icy road conditions or stopping for a fill-up. Options include flying from Vancouver to Trail to ski Red Mountain, Victoria to Kelowna non-stop to ski Big White and flying to Cranbrook — a route that runs six days a week. Chart your course here.
Most of these aren’t new routes. Pacific Coastal regularly flies to 24 to 30 of these ski-town destinations through the year as a part of its overall 65 routes, connecting some more remote communities to bigger cities. Prince George, the northern capital of B.C, for example, didn’t have a direct route to Victoria until Pacific Coastal offered it. And many people might not know that Prince George even has its own ski hill right in town.
“We really appeal to people who love B.C. for what it is, which is authentic - the outbound side of B.C., the remote communities, the hiking, fishing, kayaking, skiing,” says Boothroyd. “When you fly to more than 65 regular destinations in the world’s playground that says something.”
Non-stop service between Kelowna and Victoria, on the new SAAB 340B, launched on Nov. 23. Follow Pacific Coastal on Facebook and Twitter for the latest route and fare information. Check out pacificcoastal.com for details.
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