Harbour Air adds bad weather backup plan

Harbour Air Seaplanes has a land-based backup plan to fly customers to their destinations when fog and bad weather foul regular float plane flight schedules.

High winds and fogged in harbours can be the bane of seaplanes throughout the winter.

To make sure passengers get to their destinations, the Vancouver-based seaplane company will have an eight-seat, wheeled aircraft that flies under the Tantalus Air name, as well as a 30-seat chartered aircraft and crew on reserve in case weather temporarily suspends seaplane operations.

The service started Jan. 15 and in its first three days of operation transported 264 passengers who would have otherwise had to make alternate travel plans.

The company does not allow float plane flights if visibility is less than 3.2 kilometres and the cloud ceiling is less than 91 metres at destination or departure points, or if wind speeds are faster than 25 knots.

Randy Wright, company executive vice president, said aircraft were on standby for Nanaimo Airport Tuesday due to fog over Harbour Air's Vancouver aerodrome. He said both aircraft will be available at Nanaimo Airport, depending on the number of passengers that need to be flown out.

"For instance, right now, we're flying full 30-passenger aircraft as well as our eight-seat to Richmond because Vancouver is shut down," Wright said. "So that's what would happen. It would depend on the numbers and we'll put the appropriate aircraft on the numbers that want to go."

The company is also offering free shuttle service from downtown to Nanaimo Airport.

The land-based aircraft will be on stand-by throughout the winter season when bad weather could cancel flights out of the harbour.

For flight information including bookings and schedules, please visit Harbour Air's website at

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