Regardless of the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential visitors, Canadian snowbirds Bernard Loiselle and Sylvie Charbonneau are on their strategy to Florida — of their RV.
“Lastly, we’re going,” mentioned Loiselle, 57, from a highway cease close to Albany, N.Y. “The climate in Quebec was getting chilly.”
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 cannot drive their cellular house throughout america border through the COVID-19 pandemic.
However that drawback was solved after 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’ automobiles to the Plattsburgh airport so, after touchdown, the passengers can proceed their journey down south.
“It was nice to — from the airplane — see our RV down there, simply ready for us,” mentioned Loiselle.
Though Canadians cannot drive to the U.S. because of the land border closure, they can fly to the nation. However that also creates an issue for snowbirds who wish to take their automobiles down south.
In response, a number of transport corporations have give you new methods to assist snowbirds — and their automobiles — cross the border.
KMC ships automobiles to the U.S. sunbelt for snowbirds. However the payment may 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 automobiles.
Clients pay $500 per seat on the airplane and $1,000 for the automobile transport. As a industrial transport firm, KMC can deliver automobiles into the U.S., regardless of the border restrictions, Couturier mentioned.
“Each industrial transaction on the border is taken into account important,” he mentioned. “We have bought to have all of the paperwork, after which we’re allowed to do it.”
U.S. Customs and Border Safety confirmed to CBC Information that there are not any restrictions on Canadians importing automobiles to america through the land border closure.
Warning to snowbirds
KMC flies to Plattsburgh twice every weekday. Couturier mentioned the nine-seater airplane is at all times full.
The added enterprise has been a giant enhance 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 corporate can be in hassle this 12 months,” he mentioned. “It is a good alternative for us.”
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In the meantime, the federal authorities continues to warn Canadians to keep away from worldwide journey through the pandemic.
“Persons are most secure after they keep at house,” mentioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout a information convention on Tuesday.
Nonetheless, the message hasn’t deterred keen snowbirds. Some argue they are going to be secure, as a result of they’ve COVID-19 medical insurance coverage and plan to stay to their gated group at their vacation spot.
“[You] simply do your groceries, you return to your RV and you’ve got your supper there and that is it,” mentioned Loiselle.
Helicopter rides for snowbirds
Jeremy Rood’s dad and mom have been nonetheless eager to go to Florida this winter, however needed to take each their automobile and their Labrador, Abby. So the helicopter pilot got here up with a resolution that his employer, Nice Lakes Helicopter in Cambridge, Ont., has become a enterprise.
The corporate picks up snowbirds on the Hamilton, Ont. airport and helicopters them simply throughout the border to Buffalo, N.Y. Then, Rood’s good friend — who runs a transport firm — transports the passengers’ automobiles, sometimes on a flatbed truck, to the Buffalo airport.
“My dad and mom needed to get to Florida for the winter and I mentioned, ‘No drawback, I will be sure to guys get down there,'” mentioned Rood. “We put our heads collectively and ended up with this little factor that we’re doing right here.”
Since beginning the service in late October, Nice Lakes Helicopter has flown 30 passengers and has a whole bunch extra bookings. The price for a pair to fly in their very own non-public helicopter and transport their automobile is $1,900. Pets are welcome onboard.
Rood mentioned he isn’t stunned by the brisk enterprise, regardless of the pandemic.
“Now we have lengthy, chilly winters right here,” he mentioned. “You are not capable of get outdoors, keep match, keep energetic.”
Serving snowbirds resulting from in style demand
On the West Coast, the winters will not be as chilly, however many snowbirds there nonetheless wish to head south — and take their automobiles.
That created a chance for Bidbuy Importers based mostly in Blaine, Wash. The corporate historically imports automobiles to personal patrons and sellers.
However this 12 months it has branched out to additionally transport snowbirds’ automobiles 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 resulting from in style demand.
“When the border shut down, we obtained so many inquiries from snowbirds that have been questioning if we may assist them out,” he mentioned. “At first, we did not know as a result of it’s not one thing we have achieved.”
To this point, Bidbuy has transported 40 automobiles. The corporate has about 100 extra booked over the subsequent couple of months. Prices 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 happy to assist them escape winter.
“You by no means know the way lengthy that is gonna go on for. You bought to take pleasure in your life.”