Pemberton expected to sign new deal with Prime Air 

According to several sources, lawyers for the Village of Pemberton are close to signing off on a new contract with Prime Air, which should pave the way for scheduled air service to the Pemberton Airport.

Albert Bruno, CEO of Prime Air, said this week there was "no-one in the world that wanted to start an air service" from Pemberton more than him. He added: "I can’t say anything, but we should be in a position to go over everything within the next 10 days."

Prime Air has missed several deadlines and made a lot of promises about starting an air service in Pemberton before winter, but the fixed base operator says it has largely had its hands tied by paperwork related to its current contract with Pemberton.

Prime Air has been attempting to start an air service for 12 years, but there has been renewed interest in the airport during the past year. Intrawest, working with Alaska Airlines and WestJet, has tabled a comprehensive proposal to develop the airport and bring direct flights from Seattle and other cities into Pemberton.

Direct flights to airports near ski resorts has become an important factor at U.S. ski areas. Vail has a major marketing campaign with American Airlines and United Airlines this winter season that allows "kids" to "fly for free". Vail Resorts has for many years guaranteed scheduled flights to nearby Eagle Country Regional Airport by purchasing blocks of seats prior to the ski season. Recently Vail Resorts started approaching the Vail business community about covering some of the seat costs.

During the 2002/03 winter season almost 150,000 people flew in and out of Eagle County Regional Airport.

A marketing campaign for Park City, Utah is promoting that resort’s air accessibility this winter, telling skiers they "could be on the slopes the same day you left any major city."

In B.C., Sun Peaks Resort is spreading news about the success of its air service into Kamloops. The Okanagan resorts of Big White and Silver Star have increased air capacity as well, with news that Air Canada would be introducing A320 jet service from Vancouver to Kelowna. Previously Air Canada used a Dash 8 for the Vancouver-Kelowna flight.

While Whistler is anxious to see what happens at the Pemberton Airport, Vancouver International Airport will continue to be the major hub for the region. In a Nov. 10 story in the Vancouver Sun Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly reaffirmed that he wants Whistler to have a higher profile at the Vancouver airport.

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