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Olympic security may ground airlines, heliskiers

Fixed wing aircraft banned from flying between Pemberton and Squamish

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Whistler Air is also facing a potential shut down at Games time unless they relocate to Squamish.

Under currently outlined restrictions only helicopter operations will be permitted within the Sea to Sky corridor between Squamish and Pemberton. Fixed-wing operations will be permitted into Pemberton, however, access must be via an alternate route.

"They are discriminating against fixed wing traffic," said Mike Quinn who has owned and operated Whistler Air for 24 years.

"In my opinion it is immaterial to the discussion. There shouldn't be any differentiation (between fixed and rotary).

"We are both going to have our passengers screened, we are both going to have all the proper documentation, we are all going to be authorized, so why are they not allowing fixed wing traffic? It is pure discrimination.

"I am still hoping that they will offer us something to allow us to operate but right now it is not forthcoming."

Pemberton and Squamish airports and Whistler's heliport will all have security screening stations set up during the Olympics.

Tyler Freed of Coast Range Heliskiing Ltd. is also facing closure in the Games period.

"The Olympic security measures, as they have been described to me by representatives of the ISU, will also make it impossible for me to conduct my business for almost all of next season," said Freed.

"This is a very serious and important issue for those businesses in the aviation field."

Freed has hired a lawyer to help investigate compensation for the loss of revenue and get more details.

But closing operations for Freed is about more than just shutting down the business.

"...It is not just the operations it is all the staff and employees who are out of work as well and that is a significant issue," he said.

"I have had staff with me for seven years and we certainly don't want to shut down and don't want to see people lose their employment and that seems to be what is going to happen here.

"We cannot operate reasonably and successfully with the imposed regulations."

Cpl. Jen Allan of the 2010 Integrated Security Unit, the organization tasked with Olympic security, said officials are working to ensure that businesses can continue to operate.

"(We) are working with helicopter associations to develop specific rules around their transiting through the Olympic air space to ensure they will be able to conduct their business."