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Wheels down in Winterland

Eugene Nappard (left), Sam Synard and Pat White took a look around the Winterland airstrip on Tuesday following a presentation to the town by White.
Eugene Nappard (left), Sam Synard and Patrick White took a look around the Winterland airstrip on Tuesday following a presentation to the town by White. - Colin Farrell

EVAS Air considering flights to region

MARYSTOWN, NL— Patrick White, EVAS Air president and CEO, spoke with several members of the Marystown town council and surrounding areas on Tuesday regarding the need for flights to and from the Burin Peninsula.

White explained he is interested in working with the region to have air service available to and from the Winterland airstrip,

“I think it’s time for a service here on the Burin Peninsula,” he explained. “I really think that the volumes (are) here to make that work.”

White, who’s company is getting set to launch flights to and from Fogo Island, explained he had been looking into the area, but until recently he did not have the right aircraft for the job to land on runways measuring 3,000ft.

“We’ve been working with a company called the Pike Group, and Mr. Pike has been very helpful in making available his twin otter to us, so we have it all up and running. We have been using it to go back and forth to Fogo Island and we start officially on the 23rd.”

He explained the key thing that makes the aircraft ideal for the service is it requires less room for take-off, however he said expanding the runway could allow for larger aircraft to land at the site.

“But for now a twin otter, it’s only 100 miles, won’t take very long to go out there, probably 35 to 40 minutes to St.John’s.”

White explained the next course of action is to get an idea of how many people would use an air service to St. John’s.

"(During) our next visit to this region, we’ll be meeting with specific companies that would have people to move, or organizations and those types of things,” he said.

White said the cost of a flight, or even if it would be feasible to offer the service comes down to the numbers.

“We’re prepared to give a bit of time for the numbers to work, but we’ll do our homework before even the first flight, to ensure that we have sufficient numbers to start.”

He added should they proceed in establishing the air service, flights out of the region would not be limited to business travelers.

“No, I think it has to be a broad spectrum of people,” he said. “People going for medical appointments, people doing business in St. John’s, people flying from St. John’s to other places.”

White said they can use the current infrastructure already in place at the airstrip, noting they currently are able to fly into the area.

“It’s just basically a matter of the market they’ll be something like how we arrange the tickets and those types of things but that's minor,” he explained. “The main thing is to understand whether or not we have a market here, and then to move and meet that demand.”

White said should they proceed with offering flights from the region tickets would be available on the company’s website.

Decreased travel time

The possibility of being able to take a flight from the peninsula to St. John's is welcome news to Travis Hann, who travels for work.

"For years now, many people from the Burin Peninsula have commuted back and forth to St. Johns to catch a flight," he said. "We have all said it countless times on those flights to and from, if they had a charter to Winterland it would be a great deal for all of us who work away. I hope to see it at some point with the economy on a steady rise again."

For others it will come down to a question of cost, "unless it was cheaper than fuel used to drive, can't see me using it," said Hughie Hollett. "With the fees today there's no way that would be possible."

Colin.farrell@southerngazette.ca

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