First flight

The first Pacific Coastal Airlines flight from Vancouver to Penticton lands at YYF on Monday.

A born-in-B.C. company has now bumped Air Canada off the stick on the Penticton-Vancouver route.

Pacific Coastal Airlines on Monday launched the new service, which coincides with Air Canada’s decision to take its planes off the route due to low passenger volumes.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Flight PCO1303 landed without any fanfare at YYF around 11:30 a.m.

“We are very excited to be introducing new air service to the southern Okanagan Valley,” Pacific Coastal Airlines president Quentin Smith said in a press release afterwards.

“We are pleased to be able to offer essential services and locals more choices and competitive fares for travel to Vancouver and connections beyond.”

Pacific Coastal Airlines is offering the service four times per week – Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays – on a 19-seat Beechcraft B1900, but has a 34-seat plane available too if demand warrants.

Fares for flights next week start at $150, plus taxes and fees, each way. The company lands at the YVR South Terminal, which requires passengers to take a shuttle to the main terminal.

“The arrival of Pacific Coastal Airlines marks a great start for the year, both for our airport and our community,” Penticton Mayor John Vassilaki said in the release.

“Whether it’s for essential service passage during the pandemic, the transport of needed cargo, or access to medical appointments in the Lower Mainland, air travel to and from Penticton remains a key link to other parts of the province so I’m pleased to see Pacific Coastal Airlines here today supporting our community in maintaining that linkage.”

Pacific Coastal Airlines was founded by Smith’s father, Daryl, about 40 years ago in Bella Coola and remains privately owned.

The company, which now flies to 17 B.C. airports, isn’t receiving any financial incentives from local taxpayers, according to city officials, but will figure prominently in efforts to better promote the airport this year.

Pacific Coastal Airlines offered a short-lived service from Penticton to Calgary that it scrapped in 2008.

WestJet picked up that route in 2014 and now offers five flights a week between Penticton and Calgary.