Despite the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential visitors, Canadian snowbirds Bernard Loiselle and Sylvie Charbonneau are on their approach to Florida — of their RV.
“Finally, we’re going,” mentioned Loiselle, 57, from a street cease close to Albany, N.Y. “The weather in Quebec was getting cold.”
The couple from Marieville, Que., southeast of Montreal, reside of their RV year-round and spend the winter in Florida. This 12 months, nonetheless, they confronted an issue as a result of they can not drive their cellular residence throughout the United States border through the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that downside was solved once they discovered of a brand new service provided by KMC Transport.
The Quebec firm flies snowbirds on a chartered airplane from an airport simply outdoors Montreal to close by Plattsburgh, N.Y. KMC workers additionally drive the snowbirds’ autos to the Plattsburgh airport so, after touchdown, the passengers can proceed their journey down south.
“It was great to — from the plane — see our RV down there, just waiting for us,” mentioned Loiselle.
Although Canadians cannot drive to the U.S. because of the land border closure, they can fly to the nation. But that also creates an issue for snowbirds who wish to take their autos down south.
In response, a number of transport firms have provide you with new methods to assist snowbirds — and their vehicles — cross the border.
KMC ships autos to the U.S. sunbelt for snowbirds. But the payment could be prohibitive to move an RV — round $4,300.
So proprietor and president Michael Couturier devised a less expensive possibility: beginning in late October, he organized constitution flights for snowbirds to Plattsburgh, plus transport service for his or her autos.
Customers pay $500 per seat on the airplane and $1,000 for the automobile transport. As a industrial transport firm, KMC can carry autos into the U.S., regardless of the border restrictions, Couturier mentioned.
“Every commercial transaction at the border is considered essential,” he mentioned. “We’ve got to have all the paperwork, and then we are allowed to do it.”
U.S. Customs and Border Protection confirmed to CBC News that there are not any restrictions on Canadians importing autos to the United States through the land border closure.
Warning to snowbirds
KMC flies to Plattsburgh twice every weekday. Couturier mentioned the nine-seater airplane is all the time full.
The added enterprise has been an enormous increase for the corporate, which usually focuses on transporting RVs to sellers.
That aspect of the enterprise has slowed through the pandemic, mentioned Couturier, however catering to snowbirds has allowed him to maintain all his 35 employees employed.
“If it wasn’t for snowbirds, the company would be in trouble this year,” he mentioned. “It’s a good opportunity for us.”
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Meanwhile, the federal authorities continues to warn Canadians to keep away from worldwide journey through the pandemic.
“People are safest when they stay at home,” mentioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout a information convention on Tuesday.
However, the message hasn’t deterred keen snowbirds. Some argue they are going to be protected, as a result of they’ve COVID-19 medical insurance coverage and plan to stay to their gated group at their vacation spot.
“[You] just do your groceries, you go back to your RV and you have your supper there and that’s it,” mentioned Loiselle.
Helicopter rides for snowbirds
Jeremy Rood’s dad and mom had been nonetheless eager to go to Florida this winter, however wished to take each their automotive and their Labrador, Abby. So the helicopter pilot got here up with a resolution that his employer, Great Lakes Helicopter in Cambridge, Ont., has was a enterprise.
The firm picks up snowbirds on the Hamilton, Ont. airport and helicopters them simply throughout the border to Buffalo, N.Y. Then, Rood’s pal — who runs a transport firm — transports the passengers’ autos, usually on a flatbed truck, to the Buffalo airport.
“My parents wanted to get to Florida for the winter and I said, ‘No problem, I’ll make sure you guys get down there,'” mentioned Rood. “We put our heads together and ended up with this little thing that we’re doing here.”
Since beginning the service in late October, Great Lakes Helicopter has flown 30 passengers and has a whole lot extra bookings. The price for a pair to fly in their very own personal helicopter and transport their automotive is $1,900. Pets are welcome onboard.
Rood mentioned he isn’t stunned by the brisk enterprise, regardless of the pandemic.
“We have long, cold winters here,” he mentioned. “You’re not able to get outside, stay fit, stay active.”
Serving snowbirds on account of well-liked demand
On the West Coast, the winters might not be as chilly, however many snowbirds there nonetheless wish to head south — and take their vehicles.
That created a chance for Bidbuy Importers primarily based in Blaine, Wash. The firm historically imports autos to personal consumers and sellers.
But this 12 months it has branched out to additionally transport snowbirds’ autos from the Vancouver space to U.S. sunbelt states or to nearer locations, such because the Seattle airport.
Jayde McElroy, Bidbuy’s vice-president of selling and gross sales, mentioned the corporate took on snowbird purchasers on account of well-liked demand.
“When the border shut down, we received so many inquiries from snowbirds that were wondering if we could help them out,” he mentioned. “At first, we didn’t know because it is not something we’ve done.”
So far, Bidbuy has transported 40 vehicles. The firm has about 100 extra booked over the following couple of months. Costs vary from round $500 to upwards of $3,000, relying on the kind of automobile and the gap it is travelling.
When requested about serving to snowbirds go south through the pandemic, McElroy mentioned he is completely satisfied to assist them escape winter.
“You never know how long this is gonna go on for. You got to enjoy your life.”