Regardless of the Canada-U.S. land border closure to non-essential site 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 street cease close to Albany, N.Y. “The climate in Quebec was getting chilly.”
The couple from Marieville, Que., southeast of Montreal, stay of their RV year-round and spend the winter in Florida. This yr, nevertheless, they confronted an issue as a result of they can not drive their cell residence throughout the USA border throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
However that drawback was solved once they realized of a brand new service provided by KMC Transport.
The Quebec firm flies snowbirds on a chartered aircraft 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 nice to — from the aircraft — 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 country. However that also creates an issue for snowbirds who wish to take their autos down south.
In response, a number of transport firms have give you new methods to assist snowbirds — and their vehicles — cross the border.
KMC ships autos to the U.S. sunbelt for snowbirds. However the charge might 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.
Clients pay $500 per seat on the aircraft and $1,000 for the car transport. As a business transport firm, KMC can carry autos into the U.S., regardless of the border restrictions, Couturier mentioned.
“Each business 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 aren’t any restrictions on Canadians importing autos to the USA throughout the land border closure.
Warning to snowbirds
KMC flies to Plattsburgh twice every weekday. Couturier mentioned the nine-seater aircraft is at all times full.
The added enterprise has been a giant increase for the corporate, which usually focuses on transporting RVs to sellers.
That aspect of the enterprise has slowed throughout the pandemic, mentioned Couturier, however catering to snowbirds has allowed him to maintain all his 35 staff employed.
“If it wasn’t for snowbirds, the corporate could be in hassle this yr,” 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 throughout the pandemic.
“Individuals are most secure once they keep at residence,” mentioned Prime Minister Justin Trudeau throughout a information convention on Tuesday.
Nevertheless, 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 and plan to stay to their gated neighborhood 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 automotive and their Labrador, Abby. So the helicopter pilot got here up with a resolution that his employer, Nice Lakes Helicopter in Cambridge, Ont., has became 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 buddy — who runs a transport firm — transports the passengers’ autos, usually 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 ensure you 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 lots of extra bookings. The cost for a pair to fly in their very own non-public helicopter and transport their automotive is $1,900. Pets are welcome onboard.
Rood mentioned he is not stunned by the brisk enterprise, regardless of the pandemic.
“We now have lengthy, chilly winters right here,” he mentioned. “You are not capable of get outdoors, keep match, keep lively.”
Serving snowbirds as a result of widespread demand
On the West Coast, the winters will not be as chilly, however many snowbirds there nonetheless wish to head south — and take their vehicles.
That created a possibility for Bidbuy Importers based mostly in Blaine, Wash. The corporate historically imports autos to non-public consumers and sellers.
However 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 selling and gross sales, mentioned the corporate took on snowbird purchasers as a result of widespread demand.
“When the border shut down, we obtained so many inquiries from snowbirds that have been questioning if we might assist them out,” he mentioned. “At first, we did not know as a result of it isn’t one thing we have achieved.”
Up to now, Bidbuy has transported 40 vehicles. 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 car and the gap it is travelling.
When requested about serving to snowbirds go south throughout 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.”