Harbour Air adds back-up plane service between Victoria and mainland

Harbour Air is adding land-based flights to transport passengers in the event of poor weather.

The back-up flight service, which began last week, will use the company's newly acquired Pilatus PC-12, an eight-seat plane that flies under the branding Tantalus Air, as well as a chartered 30-seat aircraft when necessary.

"If there's a weather problem, we'll get people a boarding pass then just shuttle them out to the airport on either side," said Randy Wright, executive vice-president of business and corporate development.

Security checks will be expedited at the airport as well, Wright said.

Last week, Harbour Air flew 264 passengers between Vancouver Island and the mainland using the new service during heavy fog.

Visibility flight rules mean seaplanes won't fly if visibility is less than two miles in the air and 300 feet at destination or departure point, or if wind speeds are above 25 knots.

Until last week, grounded seaplanes meant customers were shuttled to the B.C. Ferries terminal at Swartz Bay.

"There will be some cost to us, but using these aircraft we're able to deliver a more consistent winter travel experience to our customers," Wright said. "We want to keep our people moving and this is an opportunity to do that."

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