WestJet remains interested in Terrace

WESTJET is advancing its discussions with the Northwest Regional Airport about setting up service here.

The society which runs the airport and the airline signed a non-disclosure agreement in December as discussions evolved.

The agreement followed WestJet announcing last year it was forming a subsidiary, since named Encore, to serve smaller Canadian destinations.

It then invited more than 30 airports, the Northwest Regional Airport being one, to Calgary to make sales pitches stating why WestJet should come to their communities.

“I wish I could tell you more but because of the non-disclosure agreement I can't,” said airport general manager Carman Hendry about discussions with WestJet. “But they haven't said 'no'”.

A WestJet announcement of the first airports Encore would service was expected in January but has now been put over to this month.

The company is expected to start serving the first of the smaller airports the second half of the year using seven Q400 Bombardier turboprop planes, adding more aircraft and more destinations as time moves on.

The Q400, a newer version of the Dash 8 type now flown into Terrace by Air Canada Jazz and Hawkair, are quieter and faster than their predecessors and would reduce the flying time between Terrace and Vancouver.

WestJet's consideration of Terrace comes as the airport experienced record traffic in 2012 with 139,193 passengers passing through its doors, easily eclipsing the 120,384 passenger mark in 2011.

That growth is on the strength of an improving northwestern economy thanks to large projects such as  Rio Tinto Alcan's rebuild of its Kitimat aluminum smelter.

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