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Doomed Zoom brought 50,000 Brits to Whistler last winter

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As many as 50,000 Whistler visitors could be making alternate travel plans this winter after Zoom Airlines ceased all operations on Aug. 28.

In a statement posted on Zoom’s website, co-founders Hugh and John Boyle said all aircraft have been grounded after “actions of creditors” prevented the company from flying anymore. All planes have now been seized and the company has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Zoom, an Ottawa-based company, was a discount air carrier that provided flights to YVR out of airports in Belfast, Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester and London.

Jodi Westbury, director of research and product enhancement at Tourism Whistler, told Pique in an e-mail that 900,000 visitors are believed to have visited Whistler in the winter of 2007-08. More than 500,000 of them travelled by air and about 50,000 of them travelled on Zoom Airlines.

“If this had to happen, it is best that it occurred now,” Westbury wrote. “We do expect that both charter airlines out of the UK and regularly scheduled carriers will revisit these city pairings given the opportunity to capitalize on the demand that Zoom helped to build.”

The grounding also comes as Britain’s Pound Sterling is hitting record lows against the Euro in what British Treasury chief Alistair Darling is calling England’s worst economic crisis in 60 years, according to Britain’s Guardian newspaper.

However Marc-David Seidel, a UBC expert in the tourism industry, said a dropping Pound will only have a marginal impact on travel from the UK to Canada.

“The current drop at the current levels shouldn’t affect it much,” he said. “In essence, all the pricing for hotels, dining and entertainment, it’s still an incredible discount compared to the UK.”

The Boyles blame a series of problems for the shutdown, most notably the rising cost of fueling a plane.

“The suspension of operations is a result of the exceptionally difficult trading conditions which have affected all airlines over the last 12 months,” they wrote, adding that the company has endured losses due to the “unprecedented” rise in the cost of aviation fuel.

They state that the price of oil has added approximately $50 million to Zoom’s annual operating costs and that the company could not have recovered those costs from passengers who already booked their flights.

“We are desperately sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment that this will cause passengers and those who have booked flights,” they said in the statement. “We have done everything we can to support the airline and left no stone unturned to secure a re-financing package that would have kept our aircraft flying.”

British Airways is currently offering special one-way fares at half the usual price for Zoom customers that have been stranded. The deal is available to customers who are partway through their travel plans and are booked to travel from Aug. 28 onward.

BA is also offering a discount from its World Traveller and World Traveller Plus fares to passengers booked on Zoom but have yet to travel.

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