Number of charter flights between Revelstoke and Vancouver could be increased this winter

Despite operating at a loss for the 2016-2017 season, city staff are recommending $90,400 from the economic opportunity fund be delegated to fund the charter flight service and want to see the number of flights per week increased.

Revelstoke's air charter service was hit with a number of issues this year, including more than half of the flights being diverted to other airports due to inclement weather. Photo: Everything Revelstoke.

City staff want council to recommend the Columbia Shuswap Regional District allocate $90,400 from the economic opportunity fund to provide a charter flight service from Vancouver to Revelstoke for 10 weeks between January and March, 2018. Staff are also hopeful the flight service, which would be in its second year of operation, can be expanded for the 2018 season.

The proposed expansion would provide four return flights a week over a 10-week period between January and March 2018.

The City of Revelstoke partnered with Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR), the Revelstoke Accommodation Association (RAA) and Everything Revelstoke to provide air charter services between Revelstoke and Vancouver twice a week between January and March 2017. City staff have been in discussion with these partner groups about the potential for expanding the air charter service for the 2018 season.

“Staff is requesting that council support a request for $90,400 from the EOF for this project to ensure that all costs of the service can be covered,” Nicole Fricot, director of community economic development wrote in a report to city council. “Staff is anticipating that similar amounts will be contributed by RAA and RMR. It is also anticipated that fare revenue will be generated and will be used to offset the costs of these initial contributions. No contractual agreements will be finalized until funding from each party is confirmed.”

In 2016, $37,500 from the economic opportunity fund was secured for rental of airplanes in order to provide a chartered air service for the 2016 ski season. Fricot said the total cost of the project was estimated to be $111,800 including plane rentals, marketing, ground transportation and contingency in the event planes are unable to land in Revelstoke.

“Over the eight-week season, the service offered a total of 480 seats for sale (15 seats per flight in each direction). In total 405 seats were sold giving the service an 85% average capacity sold on each flight,” Fricot stated in her report.

The report states the total gross revenue for air services for the 2016-2017 season was $86,400. The total cost of providing the air service was $111,078 leaving an accrued loss of $24,678. The Revelstoke Accommodation Association has agreed to pay the $5,963 of marketing expenses leaving the remaining $22,796 loss to be shared among the partners. The city’s portion of the loss is $7,600.

“The biggest complaint about the flight service in 2017 was the reservation process. Users of the service complained that the reservation system was very difficult to use,” said Fricot. “Staff is recommending that going forward the project invest in a Central Reservation System (Amelia) used by the majority of flight companies.”