Downtown Vancouver to Seattle flights imminent

Harbour Air’s planes use a terminal in Coal Harbour known as the Vancouver Centre Flight Centre | Glen Korstrom

A pilot program launched by the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) is set to soon clear the way for non-stop flights between the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre in Coal Harbour and downtown Seattle.

Harbour Air Group last year announced that it had reached a partnership with Seattle’s Kenmore Air and planned to launch flights this spring between Coal Harbour and Seattle’s Lake Union, near’s (Nasdaq:AMZN) headquarters. Harbour Air has since told Business in Vancouver that when the flights launch, they will "at least be five days per week."

Planning for this route has been going on for at least seven years.

BIV reported in 2011 that the sticking point has long been whether the CBSA would have a customs facility at the Coal Harbour flight centre and whether the CBSA would charge high fees. There is already a customs facility at Seattle’s Lake Union terminal.

CBSA confirmed to BIV that “a temporary CBSA clearance facility is being piloted” at the Coal Harbour flight centre.

Harbour Air’s marketing manager, Samantha Kent, told BIV that for the cross-border flights to take place, customs has to be in place where the planes take off and where they land.

For charter flights, customs officers can meet planes on an ad hoc basis, she said, while scheduled flights require steadier presence.

The flights would take less than an hour and avoid congestion at the U.S. border.

“Transportation is an important regional component to creating greater economic opportunity throughout the Cascadia innovation corridor,” said Edoardo De Martin, director of operations in Vancouver for Seattle-based technology giant Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT).

“We need multiple solutions to connect the region’s innovation hubs and we are thrilled by the continued momentum to help better connect Vancouver and Seattle,” De Martin said.

Expectations that non-stop flights are imminent follow an announcement March 16 that the B.C. government is contributing $300,000 toward a business-case analysis of whether a high-speed land link between Vancouver and Seattle is feasible.

(This story initially said that the announcement last year was for four flights per week. In fact it was for four daily flights, or two round trips per day. Harbour Air has since said that if flights launch, those flights will be for on at least five days per week)