Island Express Air will follow the route of the West Coast Trail when it begins flights to Tofino in the spring.
The Abbostsford-based airline said it will be the first to offer daily scheduled flights from Victoria International Airport to Long Beach Airport, near Tofino.
The company will launch the service on May 2 starting with five flights a week and move to a seven-day schedule with two flights daily beginning in July as the tourism season ramps up, said company president Gerry Visser.
Flights will depend on the weather, he cautioned, as Tofino is prone to severe winds and rain.
Although several airlines operates charter flights to the popular tourism destination, Island Express said the scheduled flights will provide a less-expensive option and a way for people to make a day-trip out of what is normally a long drive. Visser said one-way flights will be $199 and a return flights $388, all taxes included. Those prices include a 10 per cent discount for a booking two weeks before, he said.
“It is truly a spectacular flight,” said Visser. “People can either stay for a three-hour visit to the great beaches or stay overnight. It’s a good option and you don’t have to take an eight-hour bus ride to get there.”
Orca Airways currently offers scheduled service to Tofino-Long Beach Airport, but passengers are routed through Vancouver.
Island Express has a fleet of five aircraft using eight- and 10-seat Piper Navajos/Chieftans.
Visser said on poor weather days when it isn’t possible to fly into Tofino, ground shuttle service will be provided from either Port Alberni, Qualicum or Nanaimo.
The company will also offer a ground shuttle service at Tofino to the beaches and resorts.
Initially, flights will leave Victoria airport at 10 a.m. and arrive in Tofino a half hour later. A return flight will leave at 1:30 p.m.
Visser said the company is in the process of acquiring another plane and is considering a flight from Victoria airport to Boeing Field in south Seattle and a return through Bellingham.