New record for airport passengers

THE NORTHWEST Regional Airport broke the 13,000 passenger mark for the first time in August and it did so in handy fashion.

IT WAS a full house at the Northwest Regional Airport for a while last week with scheduled passenger and two fixed wing medevac aircraft and a medevac helicopter. Foggy weather in Prince Rupert Sept. 21 caused passenger and medevac flights to be diverted to Terrace.

THE NORTHWEST Regional Airport broke the 13,000 passenger mark for the first time in August and it did so in handy fashion.

Statistics for that month indicated there were 13,808 passenger movements, enough to push the year to date figure to 91,038.

“We’re up 18 per cent on the calendar year and 16 per cent on the fiscal year,” said airport manager Carman Hendry of the August numbers.

And with four months left in 2012, the airport’s annual total will clearly set a record, exceeding 2007 as the current best-ever year with 122,070 passenger movements.

Despite the growth, Hendry says there’s no stress on airport amenities or facilities.

“We’re built to handle 140 passengers per hour and we can do that,” he said.

Airport use hit that hourly mark during the BC Winter Games in 2010 and there were no overt problems, Hendry added.

But the facility is going to make changes to its original washrooms making it easier to get into and out of the area when carrying baggage.

“It can get very tight in there and what we’re going to do is modify the area so it’s a bit more comfortable,” said Hendry.

One project planned this year but now delayed until next year is adding parking spots for aircraft when taking on or discharging passengers.

A first request for money to the federal Western Economic Diversification program was turned down and the airport has now applied to another federal program, the Canada Infrastructure Fund.

“Even if we do get money for it this year it has to take place next year because we’ve lost our paving window,” said Hendry.

What the airport is doing now is clearing more land for long term parking tenants.

The growth in travel has created a demand for such space and the airport is responding, said Hendry.

As for the airlines themselves, Air Canada Express is taking away its late night arrival/early morning departure flight for the fall and winter months. But it is keeping three flights to and from Vancouver a day on Saturdays.

There have been no changes announced yet for Hawkair.