July 28, 2021: Pacific Coastal Airlines reconnects Bella Bella to YVR
After nearly a year-and-a-half of isolation due to public health measures to stop the spread of COVID-19, Bella Bella will see the return of regular non-stop passenger flights to and from Vancouver International Airport beginning August 10, 2021.
On July 27, 2021, Pacific Coastal Airlines (PCA) announced the resumption of flights. The initial schedule sees flights six days a week (Sundays to Fridays) on a Beechcraft 1900D. From September 26, 2021 through June 25, 2022, PCA plans to fly the Beechwood and Saab 340.
Bella Bella, with a population of approximately 1,400, is situated on Campbell Island in the Inside Passage, due east from the southern tip of Haida Gwaii. It is the largest town on BC’s central coast, and the only one with a hospital. To the Heiltsuk Nation that call it home, it is the capital to its unceded territory of nearly 17,000 square kilometres.
Getting to Bella Bella has never been easy. It is 180 km north of Port Hardy on Vancouver Island and a 1 hour 20 minute flight to YVR (480 km). It can also be reached by BC Ferries service to Port Hardy (5 hours 20 minutes), Bella Coola (5 hours 40 minutes) and Prince Rupert (9 hours 20 minutes) once a week in the winter.
“This is tremendous news, to see the town reconnected to the outside world after such a long stretch,” said OEI President Rob Beynon. “The return of Pacific Coastal’s regular flights is great for the airport, as well as for employees, travellers, and the entire Bella Bella community. For the regional economy and air services in particular, this is a positive sign.”
In a news release, PCA President Quentin Smith said, “I am excited that we have received approval from the Heiltsuk Nation to resume our scheduled flight service and we are looking forward to supporting the community of Bella Bella again.”
Heiltsuk Chief Marilyn Slett said, “We are pleased to see commercial flight services back to our community, now that it is safe.”
PCA has adopted several measures to ensure the health and safety of staff and customers, such as enhanced aircraft sanitation, reduced contact points, and, as per Transport Canada, requires all customers to wear masks and answer health check questions before boarding.