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Advocacy rewarded with flights back in the air from Prince George to Fort Nelson

Company originally scheduled to suspend connection until May
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Central Mountain Air on the runway at the Prince George Airport. / Facebook/Central Mountain Air

Since Central Mountain Air (CMA) announced a temporary suspension of service between Fort Nelson and Prince George, it was met with public pleas.

As a result, instead of grounding flights for three months, essentially cutting off any air travel from the Northern Rockies community, the company was able to work a deal at multiple levels to continue its flights.

CMA will be wheels up between Fort Nelson and Prince George starting Feb. 18 with a twice-weekly service.

“The result has been that the BC provincial and federal governments worked through an approach to enable Central Mountain Air to continue to provide essential air service connectivity to Fort Nelson,” said CMA CEO Bob Cummings in commending local and regional officials, as well as the Fort Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce of their advocacy.

“These groups were eager to find a responsible solution and we admire their action.”

The declines in travel by way of the COVID-19 pandemic is what led to the initial decision to suspend flights on four different routes, which also included between Prince George and Kamloops.

However, the community relies on the air service for essential needs, especially if further medical treatment is needed elsewhere.

"When we get to the point today where we have a regional airline that can no longer afford to fly into the northern Rockies, we're looking for that support [from government]," Fort Nelson Mayor Gary Foster told CBC News on Jan. 30.

According to CMA, the plan is to frequently grow its service once more ‘favourable’ for travel guidelines and demand.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has listed the following flights involving YXS in Prince George flagged for COVID-19 exposure: 

  • March 5 = Air Canada flight 8209 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows nine to 15
  • March 12 = Central Mountain Air flight 9M728 from Prince George to Kelowna - rows not reported
  • March 15 = Central Mountain Air flight 9M725 from Kelowna to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Aug. 21 = Air Canada flight 8212 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows six to 12
  • Aug. 24 = Flair Air flight 8711 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows 26 to 32
  • Aug. 24 = Flair Air flight 8711 from Prince George to Edmonton - rows 26 to 32
  • Oct. 13 = Flair Air flight 8187 from Prince George to Edmonton - rows 10 to 16
  • Oct. 18 = Air Canada flight 8209 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows eight to 14
  • Oct. 18 = Flair Air flight 8186 from Edmonton to Prince George - rows two to six
  • Oct. 22 = WestJet flight 3287 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows three to nine
  • Oct. 31 = Flair Airlines flight 8186 from Edmonton to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 2 = Flair Airlines flight 8187 from Prince George to Edmonton - rows 26 to 32
  • Nov. 10 = Air Canada flight 8201 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows one to seven
  • Nov. 23 = WestJet flight 3297 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 24 = WestJet flight 3290 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows not reported
  • Nov. 24 = WestJet light 3277 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 24 = WestJet flight 3282 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows not reported
  • Nov. 26 = WestJet flight 3287 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows not reported
  • Nov. 27 = WestJet flight 3290 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows not reported
  • Dec. 16 = Air Canada/Jazz flight 8208 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows 14 to 20
  • Dec. 16 = WestJet flight 3290 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows 16-19
  • Dec. 18 = WestJet flight 3287 from Vancouver to Prince George – rows 15 -19
  • Dec. 18 = Air Canada/Jazz flight 8208 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows one to four
  • Dec. 19 = WestJet flight 3290 flight from Prince George to Vancouver - rows four to 10
  • Dec. 26 = Air Canada flight 8213 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows seven to 13
  • Dec. 30 = WestJet flight 3277 from Vancouver to Prince George - rows 13 to 19
  • Dec. 31 = Flair Airlines flight 8712 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows 13 to 19
  • Jan. 1 = WestJet flight 3282 from Prince George to Vancouver - rows three to nine

Since March 27, 2020, passengers seated near a case of COVID-19 that was recognized after arrival are no longer being directly notified of their potential exposure, but are asked to check online and monitor their symptoms.

As of publication (Feb. 2), Northern Health has recorded a total of 3,524 cases with 80 deaths since the pandemic struck the region last year. 

This includes 14 people in critical care among 34 total hospitalizations, 387 active cases and 3,047 recoveries.