Starting June 8, Smithers-based Central Mountain Air is resuming some of its regular schedule, including flights to and from Terrace.
The airline will operate a flight between Terrace and Prince George on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“When we more or less suspended our schedule a month and a bit ago now, it was minimal demand so I guess it’s a wait and see to understand what the comeback is going to be and what group of passengers we might see,” said Douglas McCrea, president of Central Mountain Air.
“We are expecting more of a business, or you might say essential travellers that are associated maybe to industrial projects in the northwest here.”
Central Mountain Air is watching larger airlines like Air Canada and WestJet to see if they accelerate plans to expand flights or defer more regular service to a later date.
McCrea said the airline is “waiting to see what’s going to happen, it’s still a pretty fluid situation out there.”
While Central Mountain Air has suspended scheduled flights, it has continued to offer charter flights, but demand for that service has been varied.
“It’s been mixed, you know I guess it’s as good as it can be and we would always be available for additional but it’s been a mixed response.”
Air travel is an industry hit that has been hit particularly hard by the COVID-19 crisis. The resumption of more scheduled flights to Terrace could be a boost to the Northwest Regional Airport, which reported a drop in passenger numbers of over 90 per cent in April compared to the same month last year.
Central Mountain Air has been following Transport Canada and public health guidelines regarding aircraft cleaning, spacing requirements and mask use by passengers and crew.
And it has had to layoff employees with the airline waiting to hear if it is eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program.
The program is designed to help businesses and charities impacted by COVID-19 by subsidizing employee wages by 75% for up to 12 weeks.
According to the Government of Canada website, “This wage subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, help prevent further job losses, and better position you to resume normal operations following the crisis.”
Central Mountain Air is a privately owned and operated company established in 1987. Before scheduled flights were suspended on April 11, the airline served 12 communities in B.C. and three in Alta.