Airport passenger traffic takes off

JULY WAS the airport's third busiest passenger traffic month ever with 11,229 people either leaving or arriving.

The number is just behind July 2007's 11,471 people and August 2007's 11,523 people which helped make 2007 the airport's busiest year on record.

Airport traffic hit 122,070 total passengers in 2007 and dipped to 119,360 the next year before the recession reduced traffic to under 110,000 in 2009 and 2010.

Northwest Regional Airport manager Carman Hendry attributes this July's total, which was more than 800 over June's and a 16 per cent jump over July 2010, to a long awaited increase in regional economic activity.

Passenger counts are up not only in scheduled carriers but because of private and corporate aircraft, Hendry added.

It's not just what's going on up north,” said Hendry of work tied to the Northwest Transmission Line and mine developments. “A lot of it is Rio Tinto Alcan and the development of the liquefied natural gas plant [in Kitimat].”

Hendry did point out some similarities to this summer and the summer of 2007.

In 2007, Hawkair flew up north to the airstrip at Bob Quinn to handle Galore Creek copper and gold mine.

This year Hawkair has tied in with Northern Thunderbird to offer a virtually seamless Vancouver-Terrace-Dease Lake run called the “Miner's Express.”

And in 2007 Pacific Coastal Airlines was also flying in and out of Terrace.

An added feature to this year's count is the addition of a fourth week day flight by Air Canada Jazz, said Hendry.

Even with capacity increases, Hendry said the load factor for each flight, sometimes called the bums in seats rate, has stayed the same.

“We just have more people flying,” he said.

To the end of July, the passenger count is 65,758 which is more than the end of July 2010 count of 60,243 people.


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