MV Apollo stuck, Labrador Marine offering flights to passengers

Iced in? Fly out: Labrador man charters plane after Apollo ferry stranded

With the MV Apollo docked since Friday because of ice and poor weather, Labrador Marine has started putting passengers on planes instead.

The ferry service announced late Tuesday afternoon that with no positive change in winds expected before Thursday, the provincial Department of Transportation and Works was offering flight options for passengers starting Wednesday morning.

Costly hotel and restaurant bills

Trent O'Brien, president of the Combined Councils of Labrador and deputy mayor of L'Anse au Loop, is one of several people waiting to cross the Strait of Belle Isle to Blanc Sablon. He told CBC's Corner Brook Morning Show on Wednesday he's been trying to get back to southern Labrador since Sunday.

"It's been a very large inconvenience for me, and I have two of my staff with me as well," he said, adding that while he's been able to stay with family in Corner Brook, others aren't so lucky.

"A lot of people are out hundreds of dollars in hotel bills and meals in restaurants while they're waiting," he said. "It's very hard for people to put out that kind of money when they weren't planning for it."

While the flights may help some, he said, they aren't an option for everyone.

"Not everyone will want to fly, because of course once you get to Labrador, there's very little you can do without your car," he said.

He and others have freight waiting to cross over.

"We haven't received any groceries at home now since before Friday. I know that there are at least two trucks of groceries sitting at the ferry in St. Barbe to cross over."

More powerful ferry needed

"And of course you have people stranded who are missing medical appointments, people stranded on this side who are trying to get home incurring hotel bills and restaurant bills," O'Brien said.

"It's a big impact, really, because this ferry service is really part of our highway. It's our link to the rest of the province."

Despite the frustration, O'Brien said he believes the ferry service and the provincial government are doing what they can — but only with the equipment that's available.

"I know the ice pressure is significant, but if we had a vessel with more horsepower, more capability, it would not be so much of an issue as it is now."