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Castlegar flight cancellation bus helped passengers reach destinations this winter

The new Air Canada service shuttles passengers to Kelowna to meet Vancouver flights
A charter bus in now available out of the Castlegar airport when flights are cancelled. Photo: Submitted

Although there were a number of flight cancellations at the West Kootenay Regional Airport this winter, more passengers made it to their final destinations than usual thanks to the new Air Canada shuttle bus.

The bus service began in December. If there is a last-minute weather-related landing or takeoff issue, the airline can now re-route the scheduled flight to travel between Vancouver and Kelowna. The bus then runs between Castlegar and Kelowna connecting with a flight to or from Vancouver.

The bus initiative is directed and financed by Air Canada, but it was brokered by WKRA staff. Kootenay Charters has been contracted to provide the service.

According to WKRA manager Maciej Habrych, the City of Castlegar, which owns the regional airport, doesn’t influence the decision making process regarding activating the bus, but rather just facilitates the process of accepting passengers as they arrive.

Utilizing the service is free and optional as rescheduling your flight continues to be an option.

Habrych says a majority of passengers are choosing to take the bus when flights are cancelled.

For the 91 days covering Dec. 1 to the end of February, there were 38 flight cancellations, mostly due to weather.

That puts the flight reliability (successful take off/landings) rate at 58 per cent for this winter.

But Habrych says that when you factor in the 29 times the bus was able to provide transportation, the adjusted reliability rate is 90 per cent.

More than 1,300 people utilized the bus service this winter. In addition, almost 4,000 people flew in or out of WKRA, bringing the total to 5,233 passengers. That is 231 more passengers than the previous year.

Habrych says that due to the success of this winter’s operations with Air Canada exploring the idea of extending the service into the spring. A decision is expected soon.

If you want to make sure you don’t miss the bus, Habrych says you should arrive at the airport 90 minutes prior to your scheduled departure time as recommended by Air Canada. If there is a flight cancellation, Air Canada representatives will explain available options to passengers.

Generally, the bus is scheduled to leave WKRA shortly after the flight’s check-in cutoff time, which is 45 minutes prior to its scheduled departure time. Any passengers arriving after the check-in cutoff run the risk of missing the bus.

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Betsy Kline

About the Author: Betsy Kline

After spending several years as a freelance writer for the Castlegar News, Betsy joined the editorial staff as a reporter in March of 2015. In 2020, she moved into the editor's position.
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