Samurai 777
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WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:22 am

Came across something very interesting, especially when the 2010 Winter Olympics are concerned.

b)...WestJet Airlines and Alaska Air Group Inc. are both behind a proposal to expand the Pemberton BC airstrip, which serves the Whistler ski resort area to allow 737 size aircraft to fly there. The 2010 Winter Olympics are being held at Whistler in part and this would greatly facilitate the transportation of athletes and spectators to/from the area. It is also to promote year-around tourism to the region. Intrawest Corp. which owns most of the Whistler ski operations is the company pushing for permission to develop the airport further.

Source: The YYZ News - http://www.yyznews.com/Mar.html

I honestly don't know if that would ever go ahead. But if it does, the Pemberton Airstrip would have to undergo some serious expansion. For one thing, according to the World Airport Database ( http://www.mapbase.pair.com/wad/wad.cgi?id=CA42120 ), the runway there is only 3917 feet(1194) long - so it would have to be expanded quite a bit. A 732 could use a runway that short - but only barely, but not a 737NG.

However, I can see why these guys would come up with a proposal like this. The Sea-to-Sky Highway (Hwy 99) from Horseshoe Bay (West Vancouver) to Whistler is only 2 lanes wide for the most part, and I don't know if this highway is ever going to be twinned by the BC Government even with the Games in mind. A 2-lane highway like that is going to get tied up big time when the 2010 Games come up. And this is probably even with certain traffic restrictions being proposed such as allowing only authorized traffic on that highway. It's also a surprisingly dangerous highway due to traffic and sometimes rockfalls, or so I've heard.

Pemberton is about 31 km northeast of Whistler by road, so the town and ski resort of Whistler is a short drive away.
 
Jean Leloup
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:42 am

Samurai,

In fact, the expansion of the sea-to-sky highway was an integral part of the Olympic bid, and is going ahead. Also, I believe there are plans to restirct traffic during the games to vehicles that have a good reason to be there, so that should not be a big problem.

Having said all that, I still think this might be a good idea, if the costs are manageable. Even with the highway expansion, Whistler remains a bit of a haul from Vancouver. Especially if you're flying in and would rather not have 2 hours of driving after the flight. I could see this airport being somewhat popular (WS could have flights from YYC and YYZ), although interest would, I guess, be mostly seasonal.

On the other hand, there were plans to open up an airport near Mont-Tremblant in Quebec to airline flights, and I don't think that ever really took off. It seems to me that AC Jazz flew some Dash-8 flights YYZ-(whatever that airport was called), but I do'nt see it on their route map. So either it didn't work, or perhaps they're just occasional charters. Hopefully this new idea would justify more service...
Next flight.... who knows.
 
A346Dude
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 5:43 am

Sounds like a good idea to me. Extending a runway has got to be easier than widening an entire highway. Plus I'm sure it would please the Pemberton-area spotters (if there are any!)  Smile.
You know the gear is up and locked when it takes full throttle to taxi to the terminal.
 
lymanm
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 6:37 am

The Tremblant airport is indeed in use, though not by Jazz but rather Voyager Airways, which operates from an FBO at YYZ and from New York - EWR with Dash-7s.

http://www.tremblant.com/gettinghere...mont-tremblant_flights/index-e.htm

You can make bookings at the airport's website,

http://www.mtia.ca/en/index.cfm

This is the 2nd or 3rd season there, so it's obviously been working out. Though you're right, I seem to recall some Jazz service there last winter...
buhh bye
 
wedgetail737
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:27 am

Why couldn't Horizon start the flights with Q400's or Q200's while the expansion takes place? I'm sure they could make the trip to SEA easy with a 3900-ft. runway. Likewise, perhaps Central Mountain or Pacific Coastal should offer flights there as well for the Canadian domestic traffic, as well as an array of commuter carriers that fly throughout BC.

As far as I know, there is a small airline called Whistler Air that flights floatplanes to Whistler.
 
Jean Leloup
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:30 am

That's a good idea, Wedgetail. I'm sure some turboprop flights would be workable. However, perhaps there isn't any sort of terminal building at the moment.
Next flight.... who knows.
 
wedgetail737
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:34 am

Well, I figured that. I didn't mean immediately, but down the road a little...as the expansion proceeds. I imagine the expansion would go in steps, rather than in one big chunk.

During the late 1980's, Concord (California) Buchanan Field built a double-wide trailer like terminal in the interim to allow for PSA BAe-146 service from LAX. But before they could make a more permanent terminal PSA was purchased by USAir and the route subsequently was discontinued shortly after the merger.

Anyway, service to Premberton would make getting to Whistler a lot easier!
 
m404
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:58 am

I thought I had seen recently in a news release of an environmental group that the some government body had struck down plans for a "nearby Whistler airport" due to environmental concerns. I was not paying attention and did not notice if it was Pemberton or not. Has anyone heard about this?
Less sarcasm and more thought equal better understanding
 
Chugach
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 9:59 am

Is Pemberton even cleared to land international flights? Certainly sounds like a good idea on paper, that Sea to Sky Highway is gorgeous but still a real pain to drive.

I drove through there several years ago and thought it was a great little town...personally I hope it doesn't get gobbled up by Whistler.
GO ROCKETS
 
Ciro
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 12:05 pm

I remember that back in 1994-95 there were some ongoing talks in order to launch flights from Seattle to Squamish.

Squamish has been since ever the supporting-base for everything that runs in Whistler, so an improvement in the local airport to accommodate trans-border flights can certainly enhance the flow of tourists as well as business travelers to that town.

Very strange not to seeing this option mentioned.
The fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline business is to start as a billionaire.
 
wedgetail737
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Sun Mar 27, 2005 2:25 pm

I wasn't aware that Squamish had an airport.
 
jgold47
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Mon Mar 28, 2005 12:54 am

I was just in squamish, and i dont remeber an airport either. allthough they do have enough room for a small one, that makes a lot more sense to me than putting it in pemberton, except that as the olympics go, you are going to have a lot more feeding into whistler from the south than the north, so mabyee that works.

and the sea to sky is not that bad, and it only took me 45 minutes tops from YVR to Squamish/Whistler but this was at like 1:00 pm, the largest amount of time was getting out of central vancouver and its retarded traffic, but thats another story for another time....
 
wedgetail737
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:33 am

Actually, IMO, Pemberton makes more sense than Squamish, especially if Pemberton already has an active air field and Squamish does not.

It will be interesting to see what happens. I think it'll come down to some compromise where they allow a certain amount of turboprop traffic into that airport.

My guess is that they could treat Pemberton the same way as South Lake Tahoe. Just a thought.
 
Corners
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Mon Mar 28, 2005 2:58 am

Some years back AirBC was involved in a plan for commercial flights in and out of Pemberton. The federal govt. were talking about a microwave landing system at the airport but as far as I know nothing ever became of it. The problem with Pemberton is the very high mountains all around the area and visibility in snow/fog. I believe AirBC were planning on using Dash7's with their incredible STOL abilities. I doubt a 737 could get in there but I may be wrong as Pacific Western and CPAir put 737-200's down in many smaller towns in BC but I don't think any of them had the mountains that Pemberton has that close. I know there was concern about missed approaches and go arounds at the time. Pemberton has a spectacular setting but I'll drive up thanks.
There is also talk right now of building an airport south of Whistler in the Callahan valley, I don't know much about this proposal and Squamish does have a small airport north of town just off the road to Cheekeye




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Ciro
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Mon Mar 28, 2005 7:10 am

Dear all,

Squamish has a small, but much better airport (some may refer to it as an "air field" compared to that from Pemberton. The local community lobbied against the SEA flights by arguing the noise was stressful for both the residents and the native eagles. The idea was to set it as a platform for bus-transfer skiers.
The fastest way to become a millionaire in the airline business is to start as a billionaire.
 
Jayce
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Mon Mar 28, 2005 9:55 am

At the moment Pemberton (CYPS) is not IFR capable, so as well as widening the runway they may want to put in an ILS or at least a localizer.

I think it's a great idea, and it should only be about a 40 minute drive from the airport to Whistler, which is comparable to going from YVR to downtown Vancouver in rush hour.
"Trying is the first step towards failure" -Homer Simpson
 
Samurai 777
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Mon Mar 28, 2005 11:36 am

I've heard of Mont-Tremblant having had air service with Air Voyageur before, so it's definitely not the first time I've heard of a ski resort with air service in Canada. I've seen ads regarding Air Voyageur flights to Mont-Tremblant from YYZ in Ski Canada magazine.

I've been to Squamish myself a couple of years ago as well as to Whistler. I had figured that Squamish likely had an airport, given its size and it being a base for lumbering activity in the Howe Sound/Mt. Garibaldi region. But I didn't know until now that flights were planned from SEA to there, though.

I think a Pemberton airport may work better then a Squamish one anyways. Obviously because Pemberton's closer to Whistler, but also that connections out of YVR could be more viable, and not just flights from YYC or SEA.

It's quite possible that WestJet and Alaska/Horizon may not be the only ones interested in a Pemberton airport. AC Jazz may be interested and a few small carriers like Hawkair as well.
 
Samurai 777
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RE: WS & AS Looking At Whistler, BC-area Airport

Tue Mar 29, 2005 4:20 am

This Globe and Mail article is from last week - I only just found it this morning:

News from globeandmail.com
Monday, March 21, 2005

Proposal to service Whistler by air faces uphill challenges

B.C. tourism operators want to launch mid-size jet service into Pemberton facility

PETER KENNEDY

VANCOUVER -- With an eye to the 2010 Winter Olympics, tourism sector players in British Columbia are pushing a plan to launch commercial flights into Pemberton, a logging village on the doorstep of Intrawest Corp.'s Whistler ski operations.

Vancouver-based Intrawest said it has support from WestJet Airlines Ltd. and Alaska Air Group Inc. for a proposed expansion of the existing airport at Pemberton that would allow 737s and other mid-sized aircraft to land and take off there.

"If we are serious about growing tourism in this region over the long term, it will probably need to happen," said David Brownlie, chief operating officer at Intrawest's Whistler-Blackcomb division.

After receiving several proposals, including Intrawest's, the Village of Pemberton has hired a consultant to look at various scenarios, including a $12-million expansion of the Pemberton airport's 1,219-metre runway. Mel Feddersen, a senior director of operations with Vancouver Airport Services, is scheduled to deliver his recommendations to the municipality next week.

"This will give us some direction as to what we can do with the airport," said Pemberton Mayor Elinor Warner.

The idea of using Pemberton as a destination for commercial aircraft is not new. A decade ago, Prime Air Inc. built a terminal at the site in a bid to run a commercial service from Pemberton. The terminal sits empty today.

However, a number of factors have combined to bring the concept back onto the front burner, including Whistler's role as a joint host of the 2010 Winter Olympics and burgeoning tourism traffic to the region's ski resorts and golf courses.

These attractions draw about two million visitors annually to Whistler, which has no airport of its own. The closest major airport is in Vancouver, a two-hour drive on the sometimes hazardous Sea-to-Sky Highway, which yesterday was closed when a mudslide caused an early-morning bridge washout.

The airport idea is resurfacing as Pemberton evolves from a logging village into a bedroom community for workers from Whistler.

"If we could deliver air service of a reasonable size, the demand would absolutely be there," said Intrawest's Mr. Brownlie.

However, airline industry officials who are familiar with the situation say they are skeptical about whether such a plan would be viable or even technically possible.

"There are too many rocks in the air," said Nigel Protter, a Pemberton pilot who builds his own planes.

He was referring to the fact that the existing airport is in a narrow valley that is surrounded by mountains, the closest of which is 8,000-foot Mount Currie. Aircraft aiming to land would be challenged by the fog and low cloud that often hangs over the valley, he added.

Mike Quinn, operator of a Whistler float plane firm, said it would make good business sense to use 737-type aircraft to satisfy the medium-haul markets.

"The problem there is that these aircraft require stricter approach and departure procedures due to their size and speed," said Mr. Quinn, owner of Whistler Air. "I would like to be proven wrong, but I just can't see a 737 getting approval from Transport Canada to make the sharp 60-degree turn that would be required for landing at Pemberton."

Officials at both WestJet and Alaska Airlines said they are aware of the Pemberton airport proposal, but declined to comment.

Since the airport is owned by the Village, any plan to expand could not proceed without the support of the village's 2,000 residents. Ms. Warner was cautious about how the community will view expansion.

"There is no way that anything is going to fly over anybody's land without consultation, and that includes first nations," she said.

[Edited 2005-03-28 20:30:33]