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New airline flies out of Qualicum Beach

Island Express Air previously grounded by Transport Canada
Island Exoress Air is now flying out of Qualicum Beach Airport after Transport Canada re-instated the airline’s air operator certificantion June 21. The airline was previously suspended by Transport Canada following an incident in Abbotsford Feb. 23, 2018. — Island Express Air Photo

Island Express Air, which is based out of Abbotsford, is now flying out of Qualicum Beach Airport.

Kevin Varey, the airline’s operations manager, said Island Express Air is flying in and out of Qualicum Beach two to four times per day, seven days a week. Flights out of Qualicum Beach, Varey said, started about two weeks ago.

The airline previously announced it would be expanding its operations to Qualicum Beach with daily service to Victoria in February, 2018. Flights were expected to begin running March 5.

RELATED: Island Express Air launches daily service between Island, Boundary Bay and Abbotsford

But Transport Canada suspended the company’s certification a few days before their planned start date due to an accident.

Transport Canada re-instated the airline June 21.

At least two people were hospitalized in the accident Feb. 23, 2018 after a California-bound charter plane operated by Island Express Air slid off the runway at Abbotsford International Airport while attempting to take off.

“I, the operations manager, did a voluntarily grounding of the fleet because of what happened,” Varey said.

On Feb. 28, Transport Canada sent out a news release stating it was suspending Island Express Air’s air operator certificate.

The suspension was “due to the airline’s Feb. 23, 2018 accident in Abbotsford, B.C. and its contraventions of the Canadian Aviation Regulations,” according to the release.

RELATED: Transport Canada says Island Express Air contravened federal regulations

After Transport Canada issued the suspension, Varey said, the company then went through a “vigorous” recertification.

On June 26, Transport Canada issued another news release stating it had re-instated Island Express Air’s air operator certification for its air taxi operations “after a robust review of the company’s operations.”

The airline can now fly throughout North America again.

“Island Express Air has addressed Transport Canada’s concerns regarding the deficiencies in its operations. Transport Canada will closely monitor Island Express Air’s operations to verify that the company remains compliant with aviation safety regulations,” said the news release.

Varey said Island Express Air still doesn’t know what happened on Feb. 23 as the Tranportation Safety Board still has the aircraft and hasn’t released any information regarding “whether it was a mechanical failure, a pilot error.” He said that information will be released in the next year.

The airline was also fined $30,000 in 2017 for repeatedly allowing improperly maintained aircraft to take off.

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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