Daily seaplane flights between Seattle’s Lake Union and Coal Harbor in downtown Vancouver, B.C., begin April 26. The flights target business travelers in the high-tech corridor.
A new daily seaplane service between downtown Seattle and downtown Vancouver, B.C., begins later this month.
The one-hour flights between Seattle’s Lake Union and Vancouver’s Coal Harbour, on turboprop planes carrying just 10 passengers, are targeted at business travelers in the high-tech corridor. Tickets will cost $285 one-way.
The service, a joint venture between Seattle’s Kenmore Air and Vancouver’s Harbour Air, will start April 26.
At that price it’s likely to be most heavily used by executives of tech companies rather than day-tripping tourists.
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So call it another Nerd Bird, like the flights between Silicon Valley and Seattle or Austin, Texas.
“Microsoft has been a big supporter of this route,” said Kenmore Air chief pilot Chuck Perry. “We’ve worked closely with them on it.”
He said he envisages heavy use by business executives who will be able to fly up for a meeting without an overnight stay, while avoiding the border wait and traffic.
Microsoft has more than 800 employees at its growing Vancouver office. And Amazon, which is headquartered right beside Lake Union, recently announced it planned to double its B.C. office to 2,000 workers by 2020.
The idea for the air service was first floated at the Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference last fall, an event backed by Microsoft to better connect the two regions’ tech sectors.
Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a statement Thursday that the new route “will accelerate cross-border business and collaboration for the entire region.”
Perry said that he also foresees the service being used by wealthier foreign visitors in Vancouver who want to “pop down to Seattle” for a few days.
While the plan is for both seaplane companies to fly a daily round trip flight, Harbour Air is still awaiting its certification from the Department of Transportation to operate in U.S. airspace. Initially Kenmore will do all the flying, making both morning and late afternoon round trips.
Because Kenmore operates daily service to Victoria, B.C., it already has the necessary certification to fly into Canada and also has a U.S. Customs and Border Protection presence at its Lake Union base to process international passengers.
To make the Vancouver route possible, the Canada Border Services Agency has agreed to open a similar facility in Coal Harbor and has committed to maintain it for a year until the route is proven.
Perry said the Canadian customs service will operate on a floating facility that Kenmore moved to Coal Harbour after using it in Victoria in previous years.
Kenmore will operate a de Havilland DHC-3T Otter seaplane seating 10 passengers plus the pilot. Harbour Air plans to fly a Cessna Grand Caravan EX, seating nine passengers plus the pilot.
Morning flights will depart from Lake Union at 8 a.m., and afternoon flights at 4:10 p.m.
Perry said North Seattle and Eastside passengers will also have the option to begin the trip earlier from the company’s main base in Kenmore at the northern tip of Lake Washington, where its seaplanes are stored overnight.
Kenmore is selling tickets through Nov. 2 as it assesses the viability of the route. If that proves successful, he said, “We could develop the route and add more flights.”