Canadian operator Northern Rockies Adventures is set to commence charter flights using a 600 nm King Air 300. “For the route we’re travelling, the nearest alternative airport is about 170 nm away, and the King Air 200 wouldn’t have the fuel-carrying capability to do the trips non-stop, including the alternate, so that’s why the 300 came into play for us,” comments company owner Per Urs Schildknecht. “The operation will be starting in May. We bought the aircraft last August and then it went in for a paint job and some modifications. We are just waiting for the call to start flying it in April.”
The operator is based on the Alaska highway mile 462, and there are a number of small communities along the highway. The closest one is Fort Nelson, which is mile 300 of the Alcan Highway; there’s a major airport there with a 6,400 ft runway.
“We have lost a number of major air carriers in Canada over the last few years, and we are down now to one carrier which is very spotty, service-wise,” Schildknecht continues. “Since COVID started they have been hardly flying at all – two flights a week that are often cancelled. There is no other means of getting people up into north-eastern British Columbia on public transportation, so we are looking to fill the gap for our Northern Rockies Adventures guests. It was not possible with the carrier to book flights more than six months in advance and there were frequent schedule changes; this doesn’t work if you have high-ranking clientele.”
Northern Rockies' amphibious Blackhawk-140 Cessna Caravan and DeHavilland Turbine Single Otter are operated under a Canadian 703 charter operation, as is the King Air, so it is able to use the King Air for third party work in the Vancouver area. It has a facility there, including a 14,000 sq ft hangar at Pitt Meadows. “But the main reason for acquiring this aircraft is to provide transportation between Vancouver and our Northern Rockies Lodge. We will use it to develop new markets and enhance what we already have. Northern Rockies Adventures is well-established in the fly-fishing business, many of our guests have fished with us for decades and consider the northern Rockies one of the least-known world class fly-fishing destinations,” Schildknecht adds. “We do a lot of tourism related flying, not only for the fishing but also for our safari and Nahanni National Park flightseeing packages. Our clients are mostly from the States but also from all over the world.”
The company is also undergoing a generation change – Per Urs' sons Daniel and Michael will be taking over. “My wife and I are originally from Switzerland, and came to Canada 42 years ago. On 1 April, we will celebrate 40 years of operating our air charter business in the north. I still love flying the float 'planes, and the boys will eventually move on with the company to get into the higher end destination tourism, which they would like to develop more up here.”