Orca Airways suspended all operations on April 30, 2018. They will no longer be flying to Tofino-Long Beach Airport, and existing customers will be re-booked on Pacific Coastal Airlines. (Orca Airways Facebook Photo)

Orca Airways closes shop after 13 years in business

Pacific Coastal is re-booking existing guests scheduled to fly to Tofino-Ucluelet.

As of April 30, Orca Airways will no longer be flying to Tofino-Long Beach Airport. Existing guests will be re-booked on Pacific Coastal Airlines and all future bookings will be directed towards Pacific Coastal.

The B.C. airline had merged with Calgary-based Integra Air several months ago for financial reasons, but former president of Orca Airways, Andrew Naysmith, said he wasn’t seeing eye-to-eye with Integra officials.

“That’s when I approached Pacific Coastal. I know they are a more family-oriented business,” said Naysmith.

Kevin Boothroyd, director of business development and corporate communications for Pacific Coastal, said they are looking at upgrading their carriage and operations to meet the increased demand.

“I can tell you that we already had planned, on May 1, to have the larger 30- or 34-seat Saab aircraft on the route every day,” said Boothroyd. “Now with this new demand we are looking at adding more capacity. It could be another 1,900 [aircraft]. We will be upping our scheduled service to number of flights we just haven’t got that in a box yet because we just came to this agreement.”

Naysmith told the Westerly that Pacific Coastal has graciously taken care of most of the Orca ground crew in Tofino and Vancouver.

“It’s a big thing for me to step down, but I’m very excited that Tofino, the place that I love, is going to be supported from now probably forever more,” said Naysmith.

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