Central Mountain Air (CMA) is returning to the Smithers runway with scheduled flights.
This relaunch will use a fleet of DeHavilland Dash 8 aircraft and will see three round-trip flights per week between Smithers and Vancouver South Terminal starting Nov. 7 and flights will continue into the New Year.
CMA suspended passenger flights into Smithers in the spring of 2020 when the pandemic halted travelling.
“We are extremely excited to be once again resuming service from Vancouver to our home base of Smithers,” said Trevor Wakefield, chief operating officer at Central Mountain Air in a press release from the company.
“With the upcoming holiday season and travellers planning to visit family and friends, this re-launch is a positive step towards Central Mountain’s Air commitment to our passengers, employees, and the connectivity we offer throughout the province of British Columbia.”
Smithers Airport manager Rob Blackburn said this great news for Smithers and for the airport, adding they have seen a steady and solid return of passengers since COVID.
“The airport has seen over 80 per cent of passengers return to pre-COVID numbers. Pre-COVID the airport had four scheduled passenger flights per day to Vancouver. With 80 per cent of passengers now being served by only one large Air Canada flight per day. With only one Air Canada flight per day we heard quite often that Smithers passengers were either unable to book flights, because they were always full, or that prices were high if the seats weren’t booked early enough.”
He said with the return of CMA, passengers will have an alternative option.
“The additional flights should certainly alleviate some of the pressure of available seats and possibly help with prices. The timing of the CMA flight certainly aligns with the best possible winter weather windows for certainty of arrival and departure,” he added.
Blackburn also mentioned benefits to the local airport include an increase in aircraft and passenger movements, both of which generate revenue for the airport.
“CMA has been a long-standing business in Smithers and has served the community with Charter and commercial flights for many years. We certainly hope the community utilizes the service and shows CMA how important they are to our local economy,” he said.
Manager of the Smithers District Chamber of Commerce Sheena Miller echoed the excitement.
“This is very positive and much awaited for northern residents and visitors with the resurgence in travel demand. CMA has a very strong locally-minded reputation. The strength of their committed customer service interactions and business that is rooted and originated in Smithers B.C. is not lost on anyone who has ever flown with the company.”
“Competition is healthy, and having two diverse airlines better positions Smithers Airport and the region economically with more passengers moving through the airport using services across the community. Also, with a steadier stream of flights to and from Smithers airport, the airport will have greater opportunities to grow and improve as it takes more jets.”
Miller also said while talking with businesses in the Chamber network, the sentiment is that having choice equals greater opportunities and there’s plenty of room in the market to support two distinct airlines.