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No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:42 pm
by airevents
Good day,

I was just visiting the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre, what a fantastic place. What surprised me was that there are no flights from there to the US (Seattle would come to mind). It surprised me, as I thought that a downtown to downtown connection between Vancouver and Seattle would make a lot of sense.

Is the distance too short for such a flight to make sense? Or are there other obstacles?

Would be curious to hear from those in the know.

Thanks!

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 7:53 pm
by a380787
For starters, YVR to BC Place is only 20 mins driving assuming no traffic, so it's not like you would save THAT much ... and not everyone enjoys a tiny seaplane.

Of course, even driving is 3 hours or so, which furthers the business rationale of flying downtown to downturn unless you're conducting urgent business. If someone really wants to take a stab, maybe a chopper service would work even better.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:00 pm
by ACDC8
Quoting a380787 (Reply 1):

For starters, YVR to BC Place is only 20 mins driving assuming no traffic

Thats a very big assumption. Plus, you have to factor in the travel time from downtown Seattle to SEA.

Quoting a380787 (Reply 1):
and not everyone enjoys a tiny seaplane

Yet there is enough people who fly on them willingly between downtown Vancouver, YVR, Downtown Victoria among other destinations that have more traditional alternatives.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:14 pm
by pygmalion
would require customs and airport security to international standards with prior to flight sending of all passport data. Might not be worth the trouble to add all that infrastructure.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:18 pm
by anrec80
Quoting ACDC8 (Reply 2):
Yet there is enough people who fly on them willingly between downtown Vancouver, YVR, Downtown Victoria among other destinations that have more traditional alternatives.

Except that Victoria is on the island, and from Seattle it's 2+ hrs to Tsawassen ferry (it's close to the border) and (including wait time) 2+ hrs from there. Hence flights make perfect sense - airfare isn't much more expensive than cost of gas plus ferry ride with a vehicle.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:26 pm
by a380787
Quoting ACDC8 (Reply 2):

Yet there is enough people who fly on them willingly between downtown Vancouver, YVR, Downtown Victoria among other destinations that have more traditional alternatives.

Can't compare Vancouver-Victoria to Vancouver-Seattle. The former is the largest metro in the province to its provincial capital, with immense ties on all fronts, culturally economically politically, you name it. The ties are simply not as strong once you cross international borders.

Another big challenge is that such a hypothetical service would need reasonable frequency to be worth it versus just dealing with a plethora of existing SEA-YVR options. Something like 3x daily simply won't cut it.

Furthermore, as another poster has mentioned, YVR has US pre-clearance, so the flights can depart and arrive SEA as if they were any other domestic flight. Same thing can't be said about downtown-to-downtown seaplane service. Does BC even want to want an entire immigration operation at the seaport for about 8 passengers per hour ?

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 8:28 pm
by flyoregon
Quoting pygmalion (Reply 3):

would require customs and airport security to international standards with prior to flight sending of all passport data. Might not be worth the trouble to add all that infrastructure.

Kenmore does Seattle to Victoria with seaplanes and no troubles with customs or security...I'm sure if there was a market, they'd explore the option.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Thu Jun 09, 2016 10:57 pm
by UALWN
Quoting flyoregon (Reply 6):
Kenmore does Seattle to Victoria with seaplanes and no troubles with customs or security...I'm sure if there was a market, they'd explore the option.

In the 2000s, there was also a helicopter service between Victoria and Seattle. I don't know if it's still around.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 5:12 am
by Viscount724
Quoting airevents (Thread starter):
Is the distance too short for such a flight to make sense? Or are there other obstacles?

I doubt there's much O&D business traffic YVR-SEA, unlike to YYJ being the provincial capital and being on an island. That's also why Helijet has been able to profitably operate one of the world's very rare scheduled helicopter services between downtown YVR and downtown YYJ for many years. Plenty of business and government travellers willing to pay high fares. And while the airport-to airport service on AC/WS involves a very short flight (34 nm), that's also a time-consuming trip with the usual check-in/security hassles and getting to/from the airports at both ends with YVR's usual heavy city traffic and YYJ airport a long way from the city center.

The various floatplane services from Vancouver other than to Victoria also only serve points on islands where the only option is a time-consuming ferry trip (and the ferry terminals are a long way from downtown Vancouver).

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 5:18 am
by kdonohue
UALWN, Helijet used to operate from Victoria to Seattle. Can't remember if they ever had Vancouver non stop service. That service has been discontinued. I would think if there was a market and there weren't other financial barriers on such a cross border route, such as customs services then I'm Helijet would have kept it going.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 7:14 pm
by airevents
Thanks for your insights. I wasn´t sure about the actual driving time between the two cities but a floatplane service between Vancouver Harbour and Lake Union doesn´t seem to make a lot of sense having to install customs, immigration etc.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 8:14 pm
by pnwtraveler
Quoting anrec80 (Reply 4):
Quoting ACDC8 (Reply 2):
Yet there is enough people who fly on them willingly between downtown Vancouver, YVR, Downtown Victoria among other destinations that have more traditional alternatives.

Except that Victoria is on the island, and from Seattle it's 2+ hrs to Tsawassen ferry (it's close to the border) and (including wait time) 2+ hrs from there. Hence flights make perfect sense - airfare isn't much more expensive than cost of gas plus ferry ride with a vehicle.

There also is the Washington State Ferry that leaves from Sidney (just outside Victoria and slightly closer to downtown then the BC Ferries). It is much less frequent. It travels from Sidney to Anacortes Washington via the San Juan Islands. You cross the border while entering the ferry compound on Vancouver Island.

Then there is the private Black Ball Ferry that crosses to Port Angeles Washington from Downtown Victoria Harbour.

By the time you check in to the ferry and pass customs it all sort of equals out for time for all three ferry options.

The straight driving option from Vancouver is faster than any of the Ferry options from Victoria, however it relies on the border crossing not getting backed up badly.

Psychologically Victoria seems farther so I think that helps make the airlink work. Plus the flight options from Victoria are fewer than Vancouver so to go to many destinations you need to change in Vancouver or Seattle.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Fri Jun 10, 2016 9:06 pm
by czbbflier
I worked for Hyak Air on the docks in Victoria during the summer of 1986. At that time, Lake Union Air and Kenmore Air flew between Victoria Harbour and Lake Union. Kenmore Air also flew between Coal Harbour in Vancouver and Lake Union.

I don't know when the service was suspended- I moved away from BC for about 7 years but I don't recall service existing between Vancouver and Seattle for quite some time.

If Kenmore Air is still flying between Lake Union and Victoria then the issue has nothing to do with Canada Customs and Immigration or the USBS and Homeland Security.

At least on the Canadian end, when a flight flew into Victoria from the US- either scheduled or charter- I would simply quarantine the dock until the Customs agent showed up. I would tie the plane to the dock and leave the dock, allowing the pilot to assist passengers if they wanted to get out of the plane- if the customs agent wasn't already there.

The customs agent would then process the inbound passengers- either right on the dock or else using the desk beside the door leading from the dock. Additional facilities were not required.

There might now be a requirement for a dedicated room or something for processing the passengers but nothing onerous.

To paraphrase and endorse Viscount724's assertion, IMHO there just isn't the demand. Despite their proximity, Seattle and Vancouver have almost nothing in common that would cause a high demand for downtown-downtown air service.

Sure Microsoft and a couple of other major players have satellite offices here but given they're high-tech, any time-sensitive issues would be easily resolved with a quick up-link into the common server and a phone call to resolve whatever problem might exist. Otherwise, a leisurely 3-hour drive once a week for meetings will suffice.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:00 am
by mtnwest1979
Quoting a380787 (Reply 1):
maybe a chopper service would work even better.

HeliJet Airways did offer this service for a while, into BFI. They also had Beech 1900 service to Comox or Campbell River, I forget which
now. Seems to have started to be pared down from the get-go.

Quoting czbbflier (Reply 12):
If Kenmore Air is still flying between Lake Union and Victoria

They do and very popular route.

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:19 am
by b6sea
I've wondered why this service doesn't exist myself and most of the answers I've gotten from friends who work at Kenmore Air have said it's the fact that there are 4 other major competitors: 1)personal automobiles 2)frequent cheap bus service 3)Amtrak Cascades rail service (this is my preferred option for going up to visit relatives in Vancouver) 4) frequent air service from SEA-YVR. It just seems like these four factors make it pretty difficult to offer a really competitive service.

I could see it being somewhat popular among tourists, but the price point would be higher than other modes that it would really have to be reliant on the novelty of the seaplane, which I admit is compelling to me, personally. I imagine cruise ship passengers from either Seattle or Vancouver-based cruises would enjoy tagging on an extra 1 or 2 nights in the other city after their trips to/from Alaska and the cruise lines would love to take their money to offer it but that would be May-October and I imagine Kenmore Air has its hands full with the San Juans and its other destinations during the summer.

All in all, I would love to see it, but apparently it's just too big of a risk for anyone to attempt it.


PS - for the business traveler, the cities are close enough that you can do a day-trip, albeit a long one, by car. And a lot of the Seattle-based companies have their Canadian offices in Burnaby and the other suburbs of Vancouver (though most have moved their Canadian HQ to Toronto) or have their Seattle corporate headquarters in the suburbs (Redmond, Bellevue, Renton, Kent, etc), so a downtown to downtown service isn't exactly the most appealing option for major corporate clients.

[Edited 2016-06-10 20:26:17]

RE: No US Flights From Vancouver Harbour?

Posted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 4:52 am
by YVRLTN
Quoting flyoregon (Reply 6):
Kenmore does Seattle to Victoria with seaplanes and no troubles with customs or security

Kenmore do also fly to YVR on a charter basis, they use the Seair dock and to be honest I have no idea what they do for customs, AFAIK customs dont go there. They do the very occasional wheeled flight too which clears at the customs office south side like the bizjets.

Quoting pygmalion (Reply 3):
would require customs and airport security to international standards with prior to flight sending of all passport data. Might not be worth the trouble to add all that infrastructure.

But the cruise ship terminal is right next door, Im sure if it was worth it they could figure out a way to send an officer for a walk round the VCC to clear the pax should it be required.

Quoting a380787 (Reply 1):
For starters, YVR to BC Place is only 20 mins driving assuming no traffic

From 8pm to 7am maybe.