Despite the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential site visitors, Canadian snowbirds Bernard Loiselle and Sylvie Charbonneau are on their option to Florida — of their RV.
“Finally, we’re going,” stated Loiselle, 57, from a highway 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 yr, nonetheless, they confronted an issue as a result of they can not drive their cellular house throughout the United States border through the COVID-19 pandemic.
But that drawback was solved after they discovered of a brand new service supplied by KMC Transport.
The Quebec firm flies snowbirds on a chartered aircraft from an airport simply exterior 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,” stated 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 need to take their autos down south.
In response, a number of transport corporations have provide you with new methods to assist snowbirds — and their automobiles — cross the border.
KMC ships autos to the U.S. sunbelt for snowbirds. But the charge could be prohibitive to move an RV — round $4,300.
So proprietor and president Michael Couturier devised a less expensive choice: 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 aircraft and $1,000 for the automobile transport. As a business transport firm, KMC can deliver autos into the U.S., regardless of the border restrictions, Couturier stated.
“Every commercial transaction at the border is considered essential,” he stated. “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 stated the nine-seater aircraft is at all times full.
The added enterprise has been an enormous enhance for the corporate, which usually focuses on transporting RVs to sellers.
That facet of the enterprise has slowed through the pandemic, stated Couturier, however catering to snowbirds has allowed him to maintain all his 35 staff employed.
“If it wasn’t for snowbirds, the company would be in trouble this year,” he stated. “It’s a good opportunity for us.”
WATCH: Canada’s prime minister urges vigilance as circumstances spike:
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,” stated 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,” stated 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, sometimes 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,'” stated 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 bunch extra bookings. The value for a pair to fly in their very own personal helicopter and transport their automotive is $1,900. Pets are welcome onboard.
Rood stated he is not stunned by the brisk enterprise, regardless of the pandemic.
“We have long, cold winters here,” he stated. “You’re not able to get outside, stay fit, stay active.”
Serving snowbirds as a result of common demand
On the West Coast, the winters will not be as chilly, however many snowbirds there nonetheless need to head south — and take their automobiles.
That created a possibility for Bidbuy Importers based mostly in Blaine, Wash. The firm historically imports autos to personal patrons and sellers.
But this yr 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 promoting and gross sales, stated the corporate took on snowbird purchasers as a result of common demand.
“When the border shut down, we received so many inquiries from snowbirds that were wondering if we could help them out,” he stated. “At first, we didn’t know because it is not something we’ve done.”
So far, Bidbuy has transported 40 automobiles. 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 space it is travelling.
When requested about serving to snowbirds go south through the pandemic, McElroy stated he is glad to assist them escape winter.
“You never know how long this is gonna go on for. You got to enjoy your life.”