THE NORTHWEST Regional Airport is about to embark upon a $15 million expansion of its main terminal building in response to growing passenger numbers.
By the time construction is expected to be complete in 2016, the terminal building will be 40 per cent larger than it is now with a more spacious holding area for departing passengers, new and larger check in and baggage drop off facilities, more room for security clearing and renovated office and counter space for airlines.
“We are the northwest’s regional airport and we really want to grow that,” says airport manager Carman Hendry of the project, the first part of which is to start this fall and be finished next spring.
“We want a place where people can feel comfortable, safe and secure.”
Financing will come through a first-ever airport improvement fee of $7 as of November although the airport will look for grants to defray construction costs.
“We expect to pay for the project within 10 years after which the improvement fee will be removed,” said Hendry.
The expansion project is contained within a 20-year plan commissioned by the society which runs the airport and is being started earlier than first anticipated because of continuing increases in passenger numbers. The airport passenger count reached 177,294 in 2013 and this July, recorded a passenger count of 23,627.
Projections based on increased industrial activity to the north now that BC Hydro has completed its Northwest Transmission Line
Hendry said the society’s board of directors decided to act now instead of later so that it would not have to play catch up in the years ahead.
Still, said Hendry, the board will continue to take a cautious financial approach to its construction plan.
And that’s to be done by dividing the expansion project into four parts, each of which being designed to stand alone if need be.
“As each stage is completed, we’ll evaluate where we are and make decisions then,” said Hendry.
The added space will reach out from the existing security clearing area portion of the terminal building.
The addition will be 1,534 square metres in size and the area to be renovated within the current terminal will be 1,110 square metres for a total terminal building size of 4,101 square metres when construction is completed.
Hendry points to the larger departing passenger hold room as an example of the airport’s emphasis on passenger comfort.
The current hold room can comfortably contain about 80 people but with airlines now departing within minutes of each other, more space is needed.
What’s being planned is a hold room of approximately 190 seats and separate departure gates for each airline.
“It means we’ll be able to service more than one aircraft at a time,” said Hendry.
New check in and baggage facilities will also improve the traffic flow for passengers prior to going through security, he added.
“We’re also looking at self serve [check in] kiosks,” Hendry continued.
The expansion will allow for two security clearing lines to be installed but only one will be built for the time being.
In the meantime, work on an expanded parking area to hold up to 800 vehicles continues with a graveled surface scheduled to be ready by the beginning of winter.
Hendry said the airport is applying for grants to have the area paved.
A portion of the airport’s main service road has now been rebuilt using crush uncovered during the parking lot project.