Saturday, February 26, 2011

Floatplane Terminal Dispute Needs Resolving

Problems between floatplane operators  and the company which owns the soon to be complete float plane base at the Vancouver Convention Centre are beginning to boil to the surface. There is more than one question needing an answer as to how this whole business has developed and how it could affect travel to Vancouver Island via float plane.

The 'nutshell' version of this business drama:

A private company got the rights to build a new $22 million float plane base adjacent the Vancouver Convention Centre which will be the base for float plane traffic terminating in downtown Vancouver, it would also be the departure point between downtown Vancouver and Vancouver Island.

The company went ahead with the terminal without getting any agreements from float plane operators as to what they would have to pay for the facility, as it seems they pretty much have a monopoly and can charge whatever they like. Float plane operators are now looking at an increase in one-way fares of $12 per person to cover the cost of using the terminal. They feel the cost is simply more than their customers or the companies can bear and want a serious reduction. They have gone to the lengths of forming an association and have applied to build their own terminal downtown. That proposal will likely take months to be approved, if it ever sees approval.

The new terminal is scheduled to be open in May of this year and the current temporary terminal is due to close at the same time. Obviously if Island to downtown Vancouver float plane traffic is to continue a resolution needs to be forthcoming, and soon.

The head of BC Pavilion Corp said he wants to see the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre and the Vancouver Commercial Seaplane Association mediate their dispute with an independent fact finder who could suggest a non-binding recommendation.

Comment: Nanaimo, and any other city on Vancouver Island has a 'dog in this fight' as an extra $24 added to a round trip ticket to the island could put a dent in traffic to the island. Since making it as easy and inexpensive as possible to get on and off the Island is of serious importance to trade and commerce on the Island it is hoped that cool heads prevail and a viable solution is found.


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