If you’re looking to fly back to town, you’re now out of luck.
Subsequent to the announcement that all flights in and out of Smithers Regional Airport (YYD) were being being cancelled for April, Air Canada has announced the suspension of flights for the remainder of March as well.
In a March 24 press release, the Town of Smithers confirmed other airport services will be maintained.
“The Airport Administration Office and the Town of Smithers confirms that essential airport services such as access for emergency medical evacuations, charter flights, runway maintenance, and our ability to receive supplies will continue to be maintained,” it said.
“Airport Staff have been directed to take appropriate precautions with respect to social distancing, to self-isolation if they are symptomatic or have recently returned from travel, and other hygiene practices as recommended by Provincial authorities.
“We want to reassure the community that we are regularly monitoring the ongoing circumstances related to the COVID-19 Pandemic, and are adjusting service levels in line with the advice of health authorities.
“At the same time, we will continue to guarantee that air access in and out of Smithers is possible if it is needed in emergency situations.”
The Interior News earlier learned that both Air Canada and Central Mountain Air were suspending all their flights to for the month of April. The suspension applies to both incoming and outgoing flights.
The Town’s Chief Administrative Officer Alan Harris confirmed that neither of the commercial airliners would be running flights for the month.
In addition to YYD, Air Canada cancellations for April also target Prince Rupert and Sandspit, with the company redirecting all passengers through the Northwest Regional Airport in Terrace (YXT).
The measures come as Canada tightens up restrictions on travel in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19.
At least one local work camp is identifying alternative arrangements to make sure the closures do not impact workers who rely on air travel to get to work.
A media spokesperson with Red Chris Mine, located 80 km south of Dease Lake, said the mine is monitoring the situation closely.
“Based on the amended timelines of suspensions supplied by the airline services, a review has been completed identifying potentially impacted Red Chris employees and identifying alternative arrangements,” the company told The Interior News in an email.
“These arrangements are in line with our contingency plans to ensure the safe and reliable travel options for our employees as they move between site to home.”
The email did not indicate whether these alternative arrangements would include privately-chatered flights or some other method of transportation.
The spokesperson also confirmed that, as of Mar 20, there are no postive cases of COVID-19 at their operations.
In an emailed statement a spokesperson for Coastal GasLink said they don’t anticipate any impact to their operations from the suspensions.
“Throughout TC Energy, we’ve established policies and protocols for employees and visitors to manage their health risk and quell the spread of infection, including cancelling non-critical travel, proactively closing major metropolitan offices, and having all office and field employees who are able to do so work remotely,” the company told The Interior News.