Airline founder Daryl Smith passes at age 80

By Lorraine Graves

Published 3:40 PST, Mon February 10, 2020

Last Updated: 2:13 PDT, Wed May 12, 2021

When you think of giants of BC business, you’re unlikely to think of a second generation logger from Powell River who started an airline that is now a major employer in Richmond. 

Daryl Smith’s original goal was to be a flying salesman for the family logging business.

“But,” says Kevin Boothroyd, communications director for Pacific Coastal Airlines, “He also became a taxi service.” 

People would ask Smith to take a package or drop off a letter to a remote community he was flying into. And so, an airline was born.

That airline is still owned by the Smith family—one of the few still privately owned and operated. 

Over half of the company’s 600 employees work at the airline’s Richmond base. The airline flies to 15 BC destinations and, when all flights are combined, has the third most take-offs and landings at Vancouver International Airport (YVR).

One of Smith’s operating principles was the notion of giving back to communities. He called it his ‘learn, earn and return’ philosophy.

“It’s become a culture of giving that’s embedded, supported and embraced by our employees,” says Boothroyd, who praises the Smiths’ generosity. 

“I come into this firm and my mind is blown. For instance, they don’t tell you about flying the Kentucky Fried Chicken and donuts to Bella Bella for a kids’ tournament for free. The whole flight up, the passengers wondered why the plane smelled like KFC,” Boothroyd says with a chuckle.
The the fried chicken and donut sales at the basketball tournament funded the community’s dry grad, paying forward Smith’s kindness.

Smith made a host of community donations including to the Special Olympics and BCSPCA. His legacy of giving is a continuing ethos of the entire company. 

The Powell River United Church will host a service and reception in Daryl’s memory on Feb. 14.

In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honour his life and work are invited to make donations in his name to Canuck Place ( or BC Children’s Hospital (

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