Helijet service to begin Nov. 23 

All the cars jammed onto Highway 99 during the winter will seem pretty small from a helicopter window. The 28-minute flight from Vancouver Airport to the heliport between Alpine and Emerald is not bad either.

Richmond-based Helijet, in co-operation with Alaska Airlines, is returning to Whistler after halting service to the resort more than a decade ago. The first flights are scheduled to start on Nov. 23, the opening day of the season for Blackcomb Mountain.

An earlier attempt to operate the service over the winter of 1990-91 was abandoned because the company wasn’t getting enough traffic out of Vancouver International Airport.

Now that the company is partnered with a major airline, trips will be offered as an extension of Alaska Airlines’ regular service, as well as being an option for the general public.

Travel agents and online travellers will now be able to book flights to Whistler, via Vancouver, from anywhere in the world.

"Our new Whistler service will provide passengers with connecting flights that are as seamless as any other Alaska connections," said Rick Hill, Helijet’s vice-president of marketing and commercial alliances.

"We also expect that this new service to Whistler will appeal to local Vancouver and Whistler residents, many of whom travel between the cities for business and want to eliminate the driving and be more productive."

People in Victoria and Seattle, which are regular routes for Helijet, could also benefit from the service.

In the beginning, Helijet and Alaska Airlines will offer two round-trip flights a day, with up to 12 passengers per flight. Ticket prices are still being finalized, but it is thought that flights will cost approximately $150 one way.

If the route is successful, more flights could be added to the schedule in the future.

If weather is a problem for flying, ticket holders will either be transported by land from Vancouver International Airport or Squamish.

More information will be available on www.helijet.com and www.alaskaairlines.com as it becomes available.

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