With the announcement at the end of last month the BC government has raised to $1.5 million a year its funding commitment to Hope Air comes confirmation of the importance of the service to this and other rural regions, as well as those with large senior’s populations.
Last year, the Toronto-based charity, through partnerships with commercial airlines, arranged 5,098 flights around the province – and 437 of them were in and out of Fort St. John.
A Hope Air spokesperson says there was a significant increase in its local area service when WestJet introduced its Encore service at the North Peace Regional Airport in the summer of 2013.
This year the number of Hope Air flights through last month was up to 533, and Fort St. John is now the third busiest point of Hope Air Service in the province, behind only Kelowna and Prince George.
Hope Air started as the Mission Air Transportation Network back in 1986, in response to the need to transport cancer patients to major centres.
In that first year of operation, Mission Air arranged a total of 56 flights and was incorporated as a registered Canadian charity.
Over the next decade, hundreds of thousands of Canadian Airlines travel points were donated to Mission Air to access airline seats for those in need, and by 1993, the organization had flown Flight 10,000.
Six years after that, in 1999, came the name change to Hope Air – and by 2002, it posted Flight 35,000.
In 2010, Hope Air increased its number of flights by 58% in one year and went on to celebrate its 25th anniversary through 2011 and 2012, achieving 66,000 flights in the summer of 2011.
Patients of all ages can use Hope Air service and must only demonstrate financial need, be a resident of BC, and have Medical Services Plan coverage.
To lern more about the service you can go online, or call 1-877-346-4673.