Airport numbers keep climbing

SEPTEMBER'S PASSENGER traffic at the airport was the highest for that month ever, meaning the facility will easily pass predictions set for this year.

The September figure of 11,291 passengers helped increase the count to 89,368 so far this year, a 13 per cent jump over the same period last year, reports Northwest Regional Airport general manager Carman Hendry.

The airport had budgeted for 110,000 passengers but now will top 115,000 by the end of the year, he said.

We knew we were going to make our numbers, we didn't know it would be like this. It's a surprise, a pleasant surprise,” Hendry added.

This year's new passenger count expectation tops the 105,389 mark in 2010 and the 107,996 count in 2009.

And it returns the airport to near the level of its two best years ever – 119,360 passengers in 2008 and 122,070 in 2007.

Then, as now, a surge in mining activity and associated work as well as a boost in Rio Tinto Alcan's ongoing Kitimat aluminum smelter rebuild have been tagged as reasons for growth.

Correspondingly, a Rio Tinto smelter rebuild slowdown and the worldwide recession of the past two years dropped airport passenger numbers.

Although the airport passenger count for each of the past five months has been in the five digit range, Hendry says a slowdown is in order for the rest of the year.

With the weather turning, exploration work will be finishing and we won't be seeing a return in that area until the spring,” he said.

The approach of fall and winter also resulted in Air Canada Jazz canceling its fourth flight a day, one aimed at business travelers because of a late night landing and an early morning departure.

Hendry noted that Jazz's last early morning departure featured a full aircraft.

Hawkair is keeping its schedule intact but will respond to any changes as needed, says general manager Rod Hayward.

An affiliate, Northern Thunderbird, will keep flying into Dease Lake but do so only three days a week instead of five as of November.

That flight is timed to coincide with Hawkair's Vancouver-Terrace service making for a virtually seamless connection for those needing to go to or leave Dease Lake.

It's the first time in at least 10 years there will be scheduled service over the winter to Dease Lake,” said Hayward.








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