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Charter flights to bring Americans closer to Whistler

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A local company will attempt to shrink the travelling time between Seattle and Whistler this winter by offering a charter air service.

"It's a terrific alternative to driving," said Mike Quinn, owner of the Emerald Lake-based Whistler Air Service.

Quinn's company will be taking off from either Boeing Field or SeaTac airport and will be landing at the Squamish airport. Passengers will then be shuttled to Whistler via bus.

According to Quinn, the trip will take a total of two hours, including a 10-minute stop at Boundary Bay airport to clear customs.

It usually takes about five hours to drive to Whistler from Seattle. That time could increase this winter due to beefed up security checks at the Canada-U.S. border.

Quinn said there is also a chance a customs officer could be added to the Squamish airport, which would further reduce travel time.

Whistler Air, in operation since 1986, owns three planes and would be able to handle two to nine passengers per flight.

The planes are all currently equipped with floats but they will re-fitted with appropriate landing gear for the Seattle-Squamish flights.

Whistler Air has not yet released its rates for the charter service but, according to manager Kathy Macalister, has been receiving quite a few inquiries.

"There are quite a few second-home owners from Seattle and we're going after that high-end niche market," said Macalister.

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